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Bainimarama says aid affects regional leaders' stance

07-14-2010 15:50 BJT

SUVA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Aid money influences how Pacific island countries make decisions and this is one of the ways the planned Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Plus meeting has been sabotaged, Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said on Wednesday.

Bainimarama told local media it cannot be ignored that millions of dollars are being given out by Australia to certain Pacific island countries, and this is all about control that is why their decisions are not independent.

Bainimarama said Australia expects countries like Vanuatu to return the favor by asking outgoing MSG Chair and Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natepei to cancel next week's planned meeting in Fiji even though the leaders had agreed on it.

As a result, Australian Acting High Commissioner to Fiji Sarah Roberts was told to leave Fiji with her two children and husband on Tuesday.

The Fiji government made the decision to declare Roberts persona non grata in accordance with the Vienna Convention.

The Fiji government said the Australian government has been engaged in strategies to undermine Fiji's sovereignty and weaken the economy, as they called on Melanesian Spearhead Group countries not to attend the MSG Leaders Summit.

Fiji leaders believe that while Australia has no business in the MSG leaders' summit it has continued to discourage MSG member states from attending the meeting in the island nation.

Disappointment also stems from continued efforts by Australia to undermine the Fiji government's effort to boost the economy and return to parliamentary democracy by 2014.

Bainimarama said the solidarity of the Pacific island countries will always be at risk based on some donor countries using tactics to control what happens in the Pacific.

Bainimarama said Australia and New Zealand would remain frustrated because they could not control Fiji's destiny.

Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Ministry has confirmed that PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare will not attend the "Friends of Fiji" meeting next week.

No confirmation could be made by the Fiji Foreign Affairs Office on Wednesday on the number of leaders confirming attendance for the meet.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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