Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fiji's Christmas message - 'it's war'

"IT'S WAR", declared the Fiji Times in its melodramatic Christmas Eve response to the tit-for-tat mutual diplomat expulsions with New Zealand. The new blow to relations between the two countries was an irony given that barely 24 hours earlier the media was welcoming an apparent warming up and the threat against acting NZ High Commissioner Caroline McDonald seemed to have dropped onto the back burner. But fed up with Australia and New Zealand's alleged "bully boy" tactics, the regime gave McDonald her marching orders yesterday and NZ retaliated a couple of hours later by expelling her Fiji counterpart in Wellington, Ponsami Chetty. Both were given a week to leave. Writes Mary Rauto:

Like the case with Michael Green [expelled last year], the interim government gave no reason for the expulsion, especially when the decision came a day after interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum called for reconciliation and better dialogue with Fiji's neighbours — Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum denied that the expulsion had anything to do with the travel ban imposed on members of the interim government, the military and their family members.
In the last few weeks, the interim government has attacked New Zealand for refusing to allow three people –– the children of military officers and interim government appointees –– to enter the country on sports and study leave.
One of the victims was George Nacewa, son of Rupeni Nacewa, the secretary to the President.

The expulsion order on McDonald followed further accusations by the regime of Australian and NZ diplomats meddling in Fiji politics and spying. One of the interesting stories in the lead-up to the twin expulsions, was Vernon Small's account of NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully's staged leak with selected journos. "McCulliavelli's" ploy backfired when TVNZ's Barbara Dreaver was detained last week and sent packing back to New Zealand. Pictured: Fiji Times image taken outside McDonald's home in Suva.

Meanwhile, back to the festive season. Café Pacific wishes readers and followers a Hepi Krismas and fruitful 2009! Check out Pacific Media Centre during the break.

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