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Hostages' release a relief - sanctions threat

13 July 2000 Media Statement

Hostages' release a relief but threat of sanctions remains


Prime Minister Helen Clark and Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said tonight that the release unharmed of the hostages in Fiji came as a tremendous relief.

"Mahendra Chaudhry and his colleagues have endured eight weeks of horror at the hands of Mr Speight and his supporters.

"This breakdown of democracy in Fiji has been a tragedy, and Fiji remains far from a return to democratic government.

"News today of hostages being taken in another resort, and the seizure of police stations, the building of road blocks, the burning of buildings, and the closure of the main hydro-electric station by Speight's supporters is evidence of a country sliding towards anarchy.

"New Zealand has signalled clearly in the last few weeks that the installation of a government in Fiji which lacks a basic commitment to democracy will lead to the application of a number of measures against Fiji.

"We continue to urge the Great Council of Chiefs to show leadership and display wisdom in signalling a desire to return to a democratic government and constitution as soon as possible.

"If there are signs of goodwill, New Zealand will work with, encourage and support a new administration. If not, and there is instead an ultra-nationalist regime denying basic human rights to many, New Zealand will bring into force a range of sanctions," Helen Clark and Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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