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FIJI: MP calls for tougher NZ action

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/ USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/ USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook

SUVA: United New Zealand leader Peter Dunne has accused the New Zealand government of going "soft" on Fiji and called for tougher action in support of democracy and human rights.

In a statement after a meeting in Auckland yesterday with representatives of the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, the MP said: "The New Zealand government has gone soft on its response to the Fijian crisis, and has lost sight of the basic principles of equality, social justice and human rights in Fiji."

By not being stronger, New Zealand was giving away any position of influence it might have on Fiji now that the attempted coup was over.

Dunne called on the New Zealand government to:

* Make clear its support for the immediate restoration of the 1997 Fiji constitution, and to consider assistance towards a possible legal challenge to the legitimacy of the interim Fiji Government.

* Take the lead among South Pacific Forum nations in mobilising opposition to the interim, unelected Government in Fiji, and make clear its support for trade and economic sanctions against Fiji unless the 1997 constitution is restored within six to eight months;

* Push for the immediate removal of the Fiji Armed Forces from United Nations peacekeeping missions until the restoration of the 1997 constitution.

* Maintain sporting bans on Fiji and existing sanctions until and unless the 1997 Constitution is restored.

* Redirect all suspended government-to-government direct aid to NGOs prepared to assist Fiji's internal reconstruction following the coup.

"Any actions less than these will confirm the victory of [George] Speight and his terrorists," Dunne said.

"Even though they might now be in prison, the constitution and the legally elected government have been overthrown and not restored. Fiji today is an undemocratic country.

"That is an unacceptable affront to the region. New Zealand will be a laughing stock if it gives in to the coup and lets the interim government take the next three years to rewrite the country's constitution to suit the coupsters".

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