Friday, February 02, 2007

Prime Minister Banned From Visiting Fiji

Australia's prime minister, John Howard, has had his name put on a "watch list" held by immigration officials, of persons now barred from entering Fiji.

The dramatic action follows the Australian government's loud opposition to the recent military takeover of the island nation, and calls from Australia's foreign minister for unarmed locals to rise up against the well-armed military.

The ban also includes the prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clarke, and restricts the exit of certain people from Fiji. Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, is also believed to be on the list.

" union officials, civil rights activists and (certain) businesspeople" have also made the "watch list" of those who can enter and leave the country :

The move against the two leaders - both vocal critics of coup leader Frank Bainimarama - followed Canberra's decision to ban the military chief, who is Fiji's interim Prime Minister, and his supporters from coming to Australia.

Australia and New Zealand have also imposed sanctions on the military regime after it overthrew the elected government on December 5.

As we reported on December 7 :
Despite explicit warnings from the military leaders now in control of Fiji not to interfere, Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has again urged unarmed Fijians to engage in a resistance against military.

Downer's calls for resistance, aired also for a third day in federal Parliment, follow warnings from Commodore Frank Bainimarama that "...should we be forced to use force, let me state that we will do so very quickly."
In an interview, Downer said of his call for civilian resistance against Fiji's military : "It is wise...Of course it's difficult for them and my heart goes out to a lot of them."

There was no organised resistance to the military takeover of Fiji, and the military dictatorship said it is now committed to rooting out the institutionalised corruption that it claims forced it to overthrow the government late last year.

December 2006 : Australia's Foreign Minister Urges Insurgency In Fiji Against Military