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Fiji Central Bank Occupied By Soldiers

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, April 14 NZPA - Fiji's military has taken over the Reserve Bank in the capital, Suva.

The central bank is housed in the the same building as the New Zealand High Commission office, which is now closed, Radio New Zealand reported.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said High Commission staff were not under any threat.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully confirmed today that soldiers had entered the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) Building which also hosted the high commission.

"People coming and going are being checked," Mr McCully told the Stuff website.

"We understand there is some kind of action being taken against the (RBF) Governor (Savenaca Narbue)."

He said the Fiji economy was in serious strife even before the Easter Weekend events and the military did not understand the role of the central bank.

He said occupying the bank and seizing Mr Narbue was "an act of vandalism".

"Things have reached an unpredictable stage, some sort of crack down is under way," Mr McCully said.

"We have a volatile situation on our hands."

Earlier today the RBF issued a statement in which its deputy governor Sada Reddy said it had "tightened exchange controls with immediate effect."

The crackdown comes as 3News reporter Sia Aston and cameraman Matt Smith, and Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Sean Dorney, were deported.

Aston and Smith were due in Auckland shortly.

Earlier Mr McCully said New Zealanders should think twice about visiting Fiji.

He has also raised the possibility of travel and trade bans to the troubled Pacific nation but said they were not preferred options.

Local media are being censored and papers are no longer covering political events.

The latest turmoil in Fiji was prompted by its Court of Appeal ruling last Thursday that Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime, in power since staging a 2006 coup, was illegal under the country's 1997 constitution.

In response, the country's ailing 88-year-old president Ratu Josefa Iloilo sacked the judges, dissolved the constitution, ruled out any election for five years and briefly removed Cdre Bainimarama before re-appointing him as prime minister.

Mr McCully said New Zealanders involved in business in Fiji had talked to him about their problems but the solution ultimately lay in Fiji's own hands.

"We can't make them hold elections, we can't stop them wrecking their country if that's what they are intent on doing. There are all sorts of signs that Cdre Bainimarama is intent on wrecking his country before giving into the wishes of the international community."

Labour leader Phil Goff said Fiji's regime has lost its "veneer of respectability" now its citizens had been stripped of rights and the media put under state control.

He expected emphatic action from international bodies.

"Almost certainly the Commonwealth will suspend Fiji entirely from the Commonwealth -- that's an automatic process, I'd be very surprised if the Pacific Islands Forum didn't do the same. We've already heard harsh words from the United Nations," he told Breakfast on TV One.

Other countries may follow New Zealand's stance of redirecting any development assistance through agencies rather than the government, Mr Goff said.

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