WikiLeaks cable: NZ 'accepts' commonwealth decision on Fiji

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

March 6, 2009
New Zealand "accepts" Commonwealth decision on Fiji

date:2009-03-06T04:06:00
source:Embassy Wellington
origin:09WELLINGTON65
destination:VZCZCXRO1487 PP RUEHPB DE RUEHWL #0065 0650406 ZNY CCCCC
ZZH P 060406Z MAR 09 FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
PRIORITY 5786 INFO RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA PRIORITY 0854
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 5466 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0223
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0839 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RUCNDT/USMISSION
USUN NEW YORK 0152
classification:CONFIDENTIAL
reference:
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000065

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2024
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, FJ, NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND "ACCEPTS" ...
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000065

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2024
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, FJ, NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND "ACCEPTS" COMMONWEALTH DECISION 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 March 5 with Chris Seed, Deputy Secretary in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) March 5, 2009 who reviewed NZ's assessment of Fiji developments.

2. (C) Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London decided not to suspend Fiji as NZ had sought. GNZ and Foreign Minister Murray McCully had argued that Fiji had given no indication that it would accede to the CMAG requirements that it move toward elections. The Commonwealth had set an expectation that countries that had been removed from the group's governing councils for two years would be
expelled. This recent action allowed Fiji to breach that requirement.

3. (C) The CMAG had decided to take the approach that PNG had recommended. They had decided to let the PIF take the lead at the May meeting of its Ministerial Contact Group. If Fiji had still failed to make progress, the PIF could then move to suspend. GNZ had realized that this was a likely compromise position and did not challenge it. The CMAG is expected to meet in six months and could then move to suspend/expel Fiji if there has been no progress.

4. (C) GNZ is concerned that Frank Bainimarama will present the Commonwealth meeting as a victory for him because they chose not to expel him. There are already reports that FB is seeking to convene a special meeting of the Melanesian spearhead group, claiming that it is Fiji's turn in rotation to serve as the chair. He apparently hopes this will be a meeting more friendly to him than the PIF, with Australia, New Zealand, and Polynesian critics like Samoa and Tonga excluded. It is not yet clear whether the MSG will actually be prepared to meet a FB's request, but he is trying to win over allies one by one.

5. (C) Like Foreign Minister McCully, Seed said he sees no prospect of progress with Fiji in the near term. FB has shown no willingness to listen to advice, either domestic or foreign, about how to move forward. Anyone who questions his approach is ignored. As FB settles in, the economic situation in Fiji is becoming increasingly dire. Tourist visits is down far more steeply than Fiji government numbers suggest. Government and forex balance sheets are quickly going bad.

KEEGAN

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