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Cablegate: Nz Officials Somewhat Pessimistic On Fiji

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OO RUEHMJ RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0951/01 3340627
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 300627Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3556
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 4636
RUEHMJ/AMEMBASSY MAJURO IMMEDIATE 0103
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY IMMEDIATE 0624
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA IMMEDIATE 0544
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000951

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR D (FRITZ), EAP/FO, EUR/RPM, AND EAP/ANP
NSC FOR VICTOR CHA
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISD JESSICA POWERS
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2016
TAGS: ASEC PREL PGOV FJ NZ
SUBJECT: NZ OFFICIALS SOMEWHAT PESSIMISTIC ON FIJI

REF: WELLINGTON 938

Classified By: Acting DCM Katherine B. Hadda,
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: GNZ officials remain positive about
yesterday's talks in Wellington between Fiji PM Qarase and
Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and say the PM now has a chance
to win hearts and minds to his cause. But they say they
believe a coup is more likely than a resolution, and think
RFMF may act to force out the government as early as within
the week. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)
officials say that they believe widespread violence would be
unlikely, but that the RFMF would instead force resignations
of key government officials and that the Fijian police are
unlikely to stop this. MFAT says that they would consider
Qarase's resignation to be a coup even if he claims to go
willingly, as he clearly would have been intimidated and
coerced to make that decision. End Summary.

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2. (C) On November 30, Deputy Foreign Secretary Alan
Williams briefed the diplomatic corps today about the
previous day's meeting between Fiji PM Qarase and Commodore
Frank Bainimarama in Wellington. Williams' summary tracked
largely with what he told the DCM (reftel) but he added a bit
more detail. He revealed that Governor General Anand
Satyanand, who is of Fijian descent, opened the meeting by
welcoming the officials in Fijian and wishing them the best
for the talks. Satyanand then withdrew, leaving the
participants: Qarase, Bainimarama, NZ Foreign Minister
Winston Peters, and Williams.

3. (C) In addition to the Qoli Qoli legislation discussed
reftel, Williams said the participants went over in detail
all of the nine RFMF demands, including:

-- the status of the Fiji police investigations into
Bainimarama and other senior Fiji military officials (whether
to suspend them as the military has demanded or go through
due process as is the government's position);

-- native Fijian Trust boards;

-- how to improve the quality of governance;

-- how to educate the public that the events of 2000 were
illegal.

Williams praised Minister Peters' mediation skills and said
that Bainimarama and Qarase had agreed on follow-up steps for
all nine agenda items. GNZ offered to provide assistance as
needed, including providing international mediation resources
if helpful. Bainimarama had then left to pick up his wife
and say good-bye to his grandchildren before departing New
Zealand on a 6 pm commercial flight. Meanwhile, an RNZAF 757
transported PM Qarase back to Nadi, as the GNZ wanted to
ensure he arrived back in Fiji at least two hours before
Bainimarama's return.

4. (C) Williams said he had been on the phone with Fiji
several times since the meeting, and believed that Qarase may
soon issue more statements about the meeting and follow-up.
Bainimarama has also been talking with his officers, MFAT
says, so it may be possible to know as early as December 1
whether progress is being made. Williams added that calls
from the EU and UNSG to Bainimarama and Qarase have been
helpful. Expanding along the lines of his call with the DCM
yesterday, Williams said that this was PM Qarase's chance to
win Fijian hearts and minds.

5. (C) But while the GNZ continues to hope for the best,
Williams said he would not be surprised if a coup
nevertheless took place, and he admitted he thought this was
more likely than a change of heart by Bainimarama. The GNZ
remains unclear as to Bainimarama's motivation: is it to work
through and get agreement on the nine demands, or use them to
provide a pretext to remove the government? For this reason,
Williams said GNZ officials are taking a somber view, and
would not be surprised if the RFMF downplayed the Wellington
meeting to their staff and the public and moved within the

WELLINGTON 00000951 002 OF 002


week to force the government out. If that happens, MFAT
believes there is unlikely to be widespread violence and that
forced resignations would be the likely RFMF approach. It is
unlikely the police would take strong action in GNZ's view,
especially as Police Chief Hughes has now left the country.
Williams described Hughes as a very positive, expert
commissioner who has greatly raised the professional
standards of his force but is an expat in a country with
flawed politics.

6. (C) After Williams left to prepare for the December 1 PIF
Foreign Ministers meeting in Sydney, MFAT Pacific Islands
Division Director Heather Riddell took questions from the
diplomats. She confirmed that the GNZ had told Bainimarama
that neither Australia nor New Zealand intended to send
troops to Fiji. She also confirmed that MFAT had authorized
departure from Fiji for High Commission dependents, who had
already been taken outside of Suva for security reasons. All
High Commission staff is back in Suva. MFAT has not changed
its travel advisory since November 22, but continues to
review it. As they consider a coup is unlikely to be
violent, the GNZ does not expect to have to arrange a
widespread evacuation for NZ nationals and others but they
are keeping this option open.

7. (C) Riddell also emphasized that if Qarase resigns, GNZ
will consider a coup to have taken place and will respond
accordingly. This would be true even if the PM said he was
leaving office for the good of the country, as clearly he
would not be doing this without having been coerced and
intimidated.
McCormick

© Scoop Media

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