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Australian FM dismisses Fiji's threat to cancel planned elections in 2014

07-14-2010 10:13 BJT

CANBERRA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Wednesday dismissed as a ruse a threat by Fiji's military regime to cancel planned elections in 2014.

The Pacific nation's self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama said Fiji might not be ready for an election if it did not get any assistance from Australia and New Zealand.

His comments came shortly after Australia's acting high commissioner, Sarah Roberts, was expelled by Fiji.

Bainimarama has accused Australia of having pressured Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei to cancel a meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group planned for next week in Suva.

Smith said such claims are nonsense.

"It is just a ruse by the commodore," Smith told ABC Radio on Wednesday, adding it would be no surprise if an election was not held in 2014.

"But we want elections before then."

Smith said Australia would persist in its diplomatic relations with Fiji although it was hard to maintain a one-way dialogue.

"But we are not going to give up," Smith said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday said Australia will protest the expulsion of its top diplomat in Fiji, as relations between the two nations enters another crisis.

Australia's acting high commissioner to Fiji, Sarah Roberts, was formally ordered to leave on Tuesday and flew out of Fiji with her family on Wednesday.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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