WikiLeaks cable: NZ Foreign Minister insists Commonwealth hold the line on Fiji

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

February 27, 2009
New Zealand Foreign Minister insists Commonwealth hold the line on Fiji

date:2009-02-27T04:32:00
source:Embassy Wellington
origin:09WELLINGTON55
destination:VZCZCXRO4105 PP RUEHPB DE RUEHWL #0055 0580432 ZNY CCCCC
ZZH P 270432Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON TO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY
LONDON PRIORITY 0221 RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5772 INFO
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA PRIORITY 0853 RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 5461
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0339 RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0838
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
classification:CONFIDENTIAL
reference:
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000055

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2026
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, FJ, NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND FOREIGN MI...
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000055

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2026
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, FJ, NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND FOREIGN MINISTER INSISTS COMMONWEALTH HOLD THE LINE ON FIJI
Classified By: Embassy Wellington CDA David J. Keegan. Reasons E.O. 129
58, 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Charge met with Foreign Minister Murray McCully February 26 at his request. McCully said that he is departing over the weekend for London to participate in the Commonwealth Meeting on Fiji. He explained that Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Samuel Abal and himself would be the two Pacific participants in the meeting. He added that the PNG FM would be a strong voice at the meeting and would be "less mercurial" than PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

2. (C) Two years after the Commonwealth suspended Fiji in response to Commodore Frank Bainimarama's coup, McCully said, the Commonwealth meeting should move to take further steps on Fiji as its rules call for. When McCully spoke to Abal recently by phone, Abal said that his position on the matter was equally clear: "two years is two years is two years." The Commonwealth should also show that it is prepared to defer to the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), which has spoken clearly on Fiji. McCully rejected claims that the PIF and its posture on Fiji are being directed by Australia and New Zealand. He noted that the outspoken comments earlier in the week by Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Aiono Sailele Malielegoai, subsequently endorsed by Tonga PM Feleti Sevele, provided clear evidence that the Pacific Island Countries themselves were strongly concerned about Fiji. The only exceptions, McCully suggested, might be Tuvalu and Kiribati. Otherwise he was confident that the PIF would hold solidly to its commitment to suspend Fiji in May. He added, however, that MFAT officials were less confident on this score than he was.

3. (C) McCully said that New Zealand remained committed to being helpful to Fiji, and the government will avoid any public confrontations, but he said he saw no evidence that Fiji interim leader Frank Bainimarama had any inclination to accept such help. Nor would he be influenced by any change in the sanctions against him. Bainimarama has no interest under current conditions in moving toward democracy or in steppingdown from his position of leadership in Fiji. He has "settled in for the long haul." If the Pacific Island Forum, the
Commonwealth, or others reduce sanctions against the regime, Bainimarama will pocket the "victory." After the Commonwealth meeting, the next landmark would be the PIF meeting in May. Fiji needs to listen, McCully said, but he confessed he was not optimistic.

KEEGAN

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