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Daily Post Lashes Out Over Isolation

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SUVA: Fiji's Daily Post today lashed out at "bullying tactics" by Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth "friends" who were judging the Pacific country's attempts to deal with the month-old hostage crisis from a distance.

The paper appealed to the countries to "put down their big sticks and listen to the people of Fiji before committing to foreign policies which will punish the innocent, reinforce their sense of loss and underscore their already apparent alienation from the political process".

"Hopefully, when [Australian Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer and [New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil] Goff fly off later today, they would have had a clear understanding of the local politics that should enable them to make decisions for the better and not for the worse," said the newspaper, whose Fijian editor Jale Moala resigned suddenly this week and left for New Zealand.

His deputy, Mesake Koroi, is now acting editor.

The military interim government today abruptly cancelled a media conference which had been expected to name the line-up of an interim civilian administration.

"Since May 19, Fiji has found itself isolated. It has made more enemies in less than a month than friends in a decade," said the Daily Post, one of the country's three national daily newspapers.

"Even traditional friends like Australia and New Zealand have turned their backs on Fiji in its greatest hour of need.

"Condemnation for the rape of democracy on May 19 has come from all quarters.

"Thanks to George Speight and his gunmen, the country has been suspended temporarily from the Commonwealth.

"Trade, economic and sporting bans have been imposed on Fiji by the international community. Even the tourists are staying away.

"What did Fiji do to deserve such treatment? The answer is in the eyes of the international community: Fiji, as a country, has allowed itself to be dictated to by a group of thugs holding Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his democratic-elected (sic) government hostage at the parliamentary complex in Veiuto for almost a month now.

"According to them and more particularly our so-called friends in the Commonwealth, which include our neighbours Australia and New Zealand, Fiji does not deserve their friendship because democracy here has been prostitutionalised and raped once too often," said the paper.

"And it is for this reason that Downer and Goff as representatives of the Commonwealth are in the country today for talks with the interim military government led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

"The irony of all these (sic) moral grandstanding and bullying is that to the people of Fiji, it is nothing but a diplomatic form of blackmail.

"Both Australia and New Zealand should understand that such bullying tactics and sanctions will not help solve the crisis facing Fiji at the moment. They will become part of the problem."

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