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NZ Politicians Criticise UN For Using Fiji Troops

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Murray McCully
Murray McCully

Wellington, April 15 NZPA - New Zealand politicians are accusing the United Nations of propping up Fiji's military regime by using the troubled Pacific nations troops for peacekeeping.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully was yesterday scathing of the assistance the UN was providing the regime which has stripped citizens of rights and shut down freedom of speech.

The Green Party weighed in today, saying the UN's approach was "unconscionable".

The military, led by Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, has run Fiji since staging a coup in 2006.

Mr McCully said the UN's continued use of Fijian peacekeepers played into the hands of the interim regime.

"They sustain the interim regime both in terms of credibility and in terms of cash.

"It's very regrettable that the UN continues to do that and, in light of current circumstances, I'll be raising that issue again directly with them."

Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Keith Locke said there were about 282 Fijian troops being used in peacekeeping missions now -- fairly steady on pre-coup figures of 269.

"The UN is helping fund Fiji's military rulers by continuing to recruit Fijian military personnel for peacekeeping missions," Mr Locke said.

"It is unconscionable that the UN is still signing up Fijians peacekeepers more than two years after Cdre Bainimarama took power."

Most of the Fijian troops were serving with the United Nations in Iraq.

"It is deeply ironic that Fiji is involved in rebuilding Iraq. Fiji's military is more about destroying democracy than restoring it."

He called on New Zealand to pressure other nations such as the United States and the Britain on the issue.

Many former Fijian soldiers work for United Kingdom and US private security firms with lucrative contracts in Iraq, Mr Locke said.

There were also, he noted, more than 2000 Fijians serving with the British Army, according to a written question in the House of Lords, asked on February 9.

Fiji has become increasingly unstable in the past few days after its Court of Appeal ruled last Thursday that Cdre Bainimarama's regime 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.

The military yesterday took over the Reserve Bank in Suva and sacked Governor Savenaca Narbue.

Local media are being censored, papers are no longer covering political events and international media have been expelled.

New Zealand and Australia already have trade and travel sanctions in place against Fiji, which is set to become even more isolated.

The 16-nation Pacific Island Forum had given it until May 1 to set a date for a democratic election or be suspended and the Commonwealth is likely to suspend it.

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