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New Zealand Government condemns coup attempt

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, condemned the actions of the armed group that has taken the Fijian Prime Minister and several members of his cabinet hostage in Suva this morning.

"The use of armed force to attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government is utterly unacceptable to New Zealand and other members of the international community" said Mr Goff.

Mr Goff expressed concern for the safety and welfare of the democratically elected members of government and called for their immediate release.

"We urge all Fijians to support the constitution and oppose and reject the actions of those who have tried to subvert the democratic process, " said Mr Goff.

In a press statement, coup leader, George Speight, claimed executive powers over Fiji, revoked the constitution and the powers of the president and announced Ratu Timoci Silatolu as the new interim prime minister.

"The so-called interim government is illegal and has no democratic mandate," said Mr Goff.

"New Zealand is working with other democratic nations to secure a return of democratic government".

Mr Goff advised New Zealanders to defer all non-essential travel to Fiji.

"My prime concern is to ensure that those New Zealanders in Fiji are safe. They should exercise caution and keep in touch with the New Zealand High Commission in Suva," concluded Mr Goff.

ENDS

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