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NZ imposes Fiji sanctions

Published: 7:03PM Wednesday December 06, 2006 Source: One News

New Zealand's diplomatic relationship with Fiji has been dealt a serious blow following Commodore Frank Bainimarama's coup announcement on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Helen Clark on Wednesday unveiled tough new sanctions to put pressure on those involved in the coup.

"New Zealand now has no option but to respond further to this completely unacceptable, unconstitutional behaviour," says Clark.

Sporting ties have been severed and individuals or teams representing Fiji will be refused entry to New Zealand. They will, however, be allowed to take part in international tournaments such as the Rugby Sevens tournament.

Immigration sanctions have also been imposed.

Fijians looking for seasonal work or to gain entry under the Pacific quota system will be rejected, and Fijian soldiers of any rank working or training in New Zealand will be sent home. 

"When the members of the military from the top all the way down to the one who's peeling the potatoes realise that their pay, their per diem, their medals, their promotion are all on the line now, they might have second thoughts about what they're doing," says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.  

Clark has also laid down a challenge to those in the Fiji military.

"Are there any loyal officers in Fiji who recall the oath of allegiance which they swore, who are prepared to tell the commander that his time at the top of the force is over?" says Clark.

It is hoped that the sanctions will make an impact in the long term, although the freezing of New Zealand's $8 million annual aid package to Fiji will likely have an immediate economic effect.

There is also talk about potentially removing Fiji as chair of the Pacific Islands Forum as well as the removal of its soldiers from peacekeeping roles overseas.

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