Fiji's military-led government has declared Australia's High Commissioner to the country as persona non-grata making Ms. Sarah Roberts the second envoy from Australia to be expelled from the country and among a growing list of people the country has expelled since the 2006 military coup.According to Fiji Times Online, Ms. Roberts' expulsion is 'regrettable and a direct result of recent reports that Ms Roberts has been interfering with the internal affairs of Fiji and conducting unfriendly acts'.
According to the report, the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said that Fiji "had exhausted all avenues and on numerous occasions we have relayed our concerns to the Acting High Commissioner, Ms Roberts" and that these "actions ultimately resulted in underming the growth prospects of the Fiji economy, and the good rapport between Pacific Island Countries".
According to Fijilive, the envoy's expulsion comes amid a row between Vanuatu and Fiji over Fiji chairing a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting scheduled to be held this weekend
Vanuatu, the current MSG chair, said there were long term implications of Fiji chairing the meeting which could not be ignored.
Natapei said the decision was made in consultation with the leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia's FLNKS, and Vanuatu.
The Vanuatu PM said he had informed Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama about the decision and had invited Bainimarama to a special meeting of MSG leaders in Vanuatu to resolve the issue.
However, Bainimarama has said today the meeting will go ahead, blaming Australia for influencing Vanuatu.
Fiji Times Online reports that according to Fiji's Minister of Foreign Affairs, 'the Australian government has been engaged in strategies to undermine Fiji's sovereignty and weaken the economy' and that 'this has been further highlighted by calling on MSG countries, especially Vanuatu, not to attend the MSG Leaders Summit'.
According to Ratu Inoke, most of the non-MSG member countries had already accepted the invitation to attend. Ratu Inoke said Australia has no business in the MSG leaders summit but has continued to discourage MSG member States.
Late last year, Fiji had expelled both the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners under the same claim that the two countries had interfered in the country's affairs.
Since the military take-over in 2006, the country's military-led regime has expelled people it deemed as a threat to the country's security and progress including the editors of two of the country's main newspapers.