Personae non gratae: Accusing the two countries for meddling in its internal affairs, Fiji has banished the envoys of New Zealand and Australia, giving them up to 24 hours to leave its shores.
Fiji’s military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, blamed the envoys of two of its biggest neighbours of waging “a negative campaign against the government and people of Fiji.”
The controversy stems from Bainimarama’s attempt to appoint Sri Lankan judges to replace the local judiciary he ousted last April, after his government was pronounced illegal by the country’s courts.
In a televised address Bainimarama said: “I have told the minister of foreign affairs to issue communications to the Australian and New Zealand governments that their respective heads of missions are to be recalled within 24 hours.”
“They misinform Canberra and Wellington and wage a negative campaign against the government and people of Fiji,” he said.
Both Australia and New Zealand bans the travel of senior officials in Fiji’s military-run government led by Bainimarama, who grabbed power in a 2006 coup.
While dispelling Fiji’s earlier accusations blaming it, and Wellington, of pressuring the Sri Lankan judges to reconsider their move, Canberra has acknowledged that it advised the judges that they would be subject to a travel ban, consistent with other members of the government, once they took up their positions.
The Commonwealth suspended Fiji in September after it failed to initiate steps to revert to democracy within a set time frame.