Fiji not keen to replace Aussie diplomat

Fiji’s self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is reluctant to replace the latest Australian diplomat expelled from the South Pacific nation.

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Commodore Bainimarama told news website Fijilive that even if guidelines were established for an acting high commissioner in Fiji to replace Sarah Roberts, Australia would continue to interfere in Fiji’s affairs.

“What is the use of setting up guidelines when we all know they will not work under any guidelines we set for them?”

Commodore Bainimarama told the website on Thursday.

Ms Roberts, who left Fiji on Wednesday, is Australia’s second diplomatic chief to be thrown out of the Fiji in nine months as the two countries argue over Fiji’s return to democracy.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup and has deferred elections until 2014, sacked judges and cracked down on the media.

He said he expelled Ms Roberts because Australia had meddled in Fijian affairs by seeking to stymie a regional meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, slated for next week.

On Wednesday, Commodore Bainimarama warned the promised 2014 elections in Fiji might not go ahead because of Australia’s behaviour.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Trade Union Congress (FTUC) has accused Australia and New Zealand of bullying Pacific Island nations in to not attending the MSG.

FTUC president, Daniel Urai, said Australia and New Zealand should not be using “cheque book and bullying tactics to push Pacific Island countries to do what they want,” the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday.

The MSG summit has been postponed, but the Fijian government is going ahead with its plans to hold a meeting of Pacific Island leaders.

According to reports, eight Pacific Islands will be represented at the Engaging Fiji meeting on July 22 to 23, but only the leaders of Papua New Guinea and the Solomons Islands have been confirmed as attending.