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Australia refuses to rule out Fiji sanctions

world Updated: Apr 11, 2009 10:55 IST

AFP
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Australia on Saturday refused to rule out imposing trade sanctions against Fiji if the South Pacific nation did not return to democracy.

Trade Minister Simon Crean said President Ratu Josefa Iloilo had clearly defied the law by reappointing military chief Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as interim prime minister, whose government was on Thursday declared illegal.

Iloilo set off fresh turmoil Friday by repealing the constitution, sacking the judiciary and setting a September 2014 deadline for elections to restore democracy.

"All the president's done is tear up the constitution ... clearly he's acting in defiance of the law," Crean told reporters.

"It is getting to the stage of simply determining things day by day and this can't be good for stability, it can't be good for the future of Fiji, it can't be good for its people." Crean said Fiji was facing expulsion from the 16-member Pacific Islands Forum, of which Australia is part, and Australian Associated Press said he refused to rule out sanctions.

"This is a matter for consideration down the track," he said on the question. "I think that the urging for the moment is for the government and the new administration to declare its intentions to return to democracy," he added.

The latest developments have been condemned by the United Nations, the Commonwealth and governments around the world.