A meeting between Fiji's interim Prime Minister and media executives revealed that the country's media could be in danger of being shut down if relations between the interim regime and the media are not mended.Following the recent deportation of another news publisher, members of the interim government and media executives met on Tuesday to discuss the relations between the two groups.
According to Fijilive, Commodore Bainimarama, the interim Prime Minister stated that 'he had no qualms about shutting down the media in the country'. However, he also said that he did not want to resort to that option.
Relations between the media and the interim government have been on shaky ground since the military coup led by Bainimarama two years ago and there have been reoccurring incidences of attempts to stop the media from reporting on the interim government's activities.
Fiji Times editor-in-chief, Netani Rika, 'said the comment made by Bainimarama yesterday was unfortunate'. 'Rika said initially the atmosphere of the meeting was cordial but things became tense when Bainimarama accused them of hating him and reporting with an agenda'.
In the meeting, it was reportedly made clear that deported publishers Russell Hunter of the Fiji Sun and Evan Hannah of the Fiji Times, would not be allowed to return to Fiji.
Other media organizations had mixed reactions to Commodore Bainimarama's threat but the Prime Minister's Permanent Secretary, Parmesh Chand, 'said the comments seem to have been exaggerated and taken out of context', according to the Fiji Times. In addition, 'Mr Chand, who was also present at the meeting, said there was a good exchange of views' and that it was "unfair now that the media is strategically picking up issues from that meeting and in the process sensationalising them".
Meanwhile, the Fiji Times has stated that Mr. Evan Hannah will remain 'managing director and publisher of the Fiji Times and is now running the business from News Limited's offices in Sydney'.