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Australia's diplomatic chief leaves Fiji

07-15-2010 10:21 BJT

CANBERRA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Australia's top diplomat to Fiji, expelled over a bitter diplomatic row, has left the country for home, Australia's media reported on Wednesday.

Sarah Roberts flew out on Wednesday afternoon with her husband and two children. She was expected to touch down in Melbourne, Australia later in the evening.

Roberts is Australia's second diplomatic chief to be thrown out of the country in nine months as the two countries argued over Fiji's return to democracy.

Fiji's self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup.

Commodore Bainimarama said he expelled Roberts because Australia had meddled in Fijian affairs by seeking to stymie a regional meeting.

On Wednesday, he warned the promised 2014 elections in Fiji might not go ahead because of Australia's behavior.

"I'm all of a sudden thinking we might not really be ready come 2014 for elections if we don't get any assistance from Australia and New Zealand," Commodore Bainimarama told an Auckland radio station.

"Fiji is certainly not going to back off and go to the polls just because of this."

He said Australia and New Zealand "don't live in Fiji so they don't know what's happening in Fiji", adding that Roberts "has no place in Fiji".

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith dismissed the claim that elections might not proceed because of Australia's behavior as "nonsense".

"It's just a ruse by the commodore," Smith told ABC Radio.

Smith said Commodore Bainimarama had promised elections before and not delivered them, so he would not be surprised if the 2014 poll did not proceed, adding that Australia would keep trying to talk to Fiji about democracy.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source:

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