McCully attacks UN for 'hypocritical' use of Fijian troops

By Audrey Young

Foreign Minister Murray McCully yesterday welcomed UN Security Council calls for elections in Fiji, but said the continued use of Fiji soldiers in UN peacekeeping missions was "utterly hypocritical".

Fiji has 282 troops, military observers or police employed in UN missions around the world.

"It is very hard to see how they can justify using military people who have overthrown the rule of law in their own country as the agents to enforce the rule of law as peacekeepers somewhere else," said Mr McCully.

"That seems utterly incongruous to me. It is utterly hypocritical."

A finding by the Fiji Court of Appeal that a December 2006 coup by military commander Frank Bainimarama was unlawful led to an even greater crackdown on freedoms including the sacking of judges, censorship of news media, and the abrogation of the constitution.

Security Council president, Mexico Ambassador Claude Heller, said the council was "deeply concerned about the situation in Fiji where undemocratic decisions were made, including the abrogation of the constitution".

"It's a backward step," he said.

The council's 15 members "expressed hopes that Fiji would make a steadfast advancement toward democracy and that free elections will be held at the soonest possible time".

Mr McCully said he was "pleased to see that the Security Council is taking developments in Fiji as seriously as they should".

He had informal discussions on Monday night with visiting Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, and they touched on Fiji.

"He has made some quite colourful statements about the commodore in recent days so his position is well understood," he said.

Mr Tuilaepa told the Samoan newspaper Savali that Fiji President Josefa Iloilo was Mr Bainimarama's favourite "hand puppet".

"But one day soon the puppets will grow a brain and see Frank for the evil puppeteer he really is."

He also called on the people of Fiji to engage in peaceful resistance.

"The people of Fiji ... will have to stand up and demand a return of their government. Pound the streets in protest marches if they have to.

"The church leaders and traditional leaders of Fiji should also come out of their shells and lead the people.

"And if the Fijian people want it bad enough, peaceful and passive resistance will work in Fiji. That is how Samoa gained political independence and that's how the people of Fiji will finally be free of Bainimarama's stranglehold on power. It's the only way you can rid yourself of cheap idiotic dictators."

Reports yesterday claimed Fiji's military regime has ruled it cannot be legally challenged over its 2006 coup and has begun shredding documents that incriminate the regime. Blog websites have reported that the newly appointed chief registrar, Major Ana Rokomokoti, has been destroying court documents related to the coup and any other negative claims.

Fiji's former Solicitor-General, fired in a political upheaval two weeks ago, accepted re-appointment on Tuesday, saying the country needed qualified lawyers to help restore the rule of law.

Christopher Pryde rejected calls by the New Zealand and Fiji Law Societies for lawyers to refuse appointments to posts in the military-led regime.

"It is vitally important ... that people assist the country in getting back on its feet and to a restoration of the rule of law," said Mr Pryde, a former New Zealand lawyer.

- additional reporting NZPA, AAP

- NZ Herald

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