New Zealand refuses to lift Fiji sanctions
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New Zealand refuses to lift Fiji sanctions

NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark said that it would be "silly" to bow to threats by coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 09:46 IST

New Zealand is to maintain sanctions on Fiji, with Prime Minister Helen Clark saying on Monday that it would be "silly" to bow to threats by coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama.

Bainimarama, who last month overthrew the democratically elected Fiji government of Laisenia Qarase, threatened retaliation last week after a senior official from his new government was denied entry to New Zealand.

But Clark said Australia, Canada, the United States, the European Union, South Africa, the United Nations, and the Commonwealth had all taken a similar position to New Zealand in reacting strongly to Fiji's coup.

"Frankly I think it would make New Zealand look a little silly if we were suddenly to bow out because Mr Bainimarama made a threat," she told National Radio from Antarctica where she is attending celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of New Zealand's Scott Base.

She said Fiji's interim leadership needed to show the international community how it planned to return the country to constitutional government following the December coup.

Bainimarama has said New Zealand's hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exports to Fiji could be put at risk because of Wellington's stance against his administration.

But Clark doubted exports were at risk, and ousted Fiji leader Qarase warned Bainimarama to be careful not to provoke further sanctions from New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand imposed sanctions on Fiji following the bloodless December 5 coup when the Fiji military overthrew Qarase's government, accusing it of corruption.

First Published: Jan 22, 2007 09:46 IST