Wednesday, 24 December 2008 6:12 AM

Fiji Expels Another NZ Envoy

Fiji has expelled acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Caroline McDonald, following a tense standoff regarding the refusal of a student visa to the son of the President's private secretary.

In the continuing saga of the tense relations between Fiji and New Zealand, Fiji has once again expelled another New Zealand envoy, following the much publicized expulsion of Michael Green, New Zealand's High Commissioner to Fiji, last year.

According to Fijilive, the expulsion was announced in Suva late yesterday afternoon 'by interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, who said McDonald had been declared persona non grata in Fiji'.
'Sayed-Khaiyum said the decision was "a direct result of McDonald's actions over the past year that have been contrary to the accepted international norms of diplomatic behaviour"'.

"The interim Government deeply regrets this action but under the circumstances it has had little choice," Sayed-Khaiyum said, adding, "Government wishes to make it very clear that this is purely a bilateral matter between Fiji and New Zealand and it in no way should have implications on Fiji's bilateral relations with other countries, including its commitments and obligation to the missions based in Suva, the wider international community as well as the Pacific Islands Forum."

While Fiji has blamed the expulsion on Ms. McDonald's behaviour, the widely held belief is that this latest development is the result of New Zealand refusing to grant a student visa to the son of Fiji's President's private secretary to continue his education at a New Zealand university.
Interim Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, had 'threatened last week to expel McDonald if a student visa was not granted to the son of the President's private secretary' and 'was told last Tuesday it would not be granted'.

According to Fijilive, New Zealand's foreign minister says there has been "no misbehaviour" by its high commissioner to justify yesterday afternoon's decision by the Fiji interim Government to expel her'.

'Murray McCully says Fiji officials have not given a reason for Caroline McDonald's expulsion', telling the Associated Press that the "New Zealand Government can't deal with these discussions with a gun pointed at its head."

Furthermore, according to Fijilive, 'New Zealand has retaliated by sending the acting Fiji High Commissioner home'.
'NZ TV3 reports that Fiji's acting High Commissioner in Wellington, Ponsami Chetty, would be on the first flight home'.

According to the report, Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum 'was unaware of any retaliatory action by Wellington when asked by journalists' yesterday afternoon, but stated that, "If Ponsami Chetty has been acting the way New Zealand diplomats have been acting in Fiji then he deserves to be sent back. But he hasn't, so he shouldn't be expelled."

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By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province