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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Statement by the Fijian Government


June 10th 2011: The impending arrival of Fijian fugitive Tevita Mara into Australia and the presence of the Tongan Navy boats within Fiji’s EEZ at Minerva Reef demonstrates a concerted effort by the Australian Government in the form of Kevin Rudd/Stephen Smith followed by McCully on their coattails to subvert the path towards the holding of truly democratic elections in Fiji.

It is evident that hitherto Australia and New Zealand foreign policy towards Fiji has been a failure.The failure of their policy was recently highlighted in a report by the Australian think tank of Lowy Institute. A number of other Australian and New Zealand political commentators, academics and ordinary citizens of these two countries have also attested to this failure.They all seek and propose engagements, just as the Fijian Government has always wanted.

The recent fleeing from Fiji of Mara as a fugitive without a Fijian passport, the subsequent issue of Tongan passport to him and the willingness of the Australian Government and now we understand the New Zealand to grant a visa; and the Tongan Government’s inaction on extradition papers, all show a web of deceit, collusion and a complete lack of disregard of legal extradition processes.

Mara,  who claims to have been rescued while fishing by a Tongan Navy boat which happened to be in the area is clearly a lie. Suffice to say if a person is rescued at sea he will return home. Mara has not – perhaps because Fiji is no longer home to him. What of course is even more startling in this saga is the inability of or selective analysis by Australian and New Zealand media and policy makers of this glaring anomaly.

Mara’s subsequent claim that he does not want to return to Fiji because of the absence of an independent judiciary is hollow because if it were compromised then Government would win all its cases. It is this same judiciary that independently granted him bail, just like other accused persons who are bailed pending trial.

It is apparent that Mara, a fugitive and political opportunist, has taken advantage of Rudd and McCully’s myopia on Fiji and the Southern Pacific.Rudd and McCully, driven by their neo-colonial and personal agenda, on the other hand see Mara as someone who can give some form of credibility to their unfounded and misplaced assessment of Fiji and the rest of the Southern Pacific.

So what we will see now over the next few weeks in Australia and New Zealand is the red carpet being rolled for Mara, a man who has abandoned his country; unfounded statements and lies being espoused about Fiji which will be far from the ground realities in Fiji; these lies will be used to justify interventionist policies and positioning; the cajoling and courting of political opportunists who are beholden to a skewered, racist and inefficient system of governance. Of course all of this will make Rudd and McCully feel good, important and self-satisfied.

While malice, deceit and lies will escalate, the Tongans as seen with their presence at the Minerva Reef will be manipulated through offerings of gifts and aid to try and turn up the ante. Fiji’s position is very simple. Any challenge to our economic zone will be dealt with through international law namely UNCLOS.

The extradition of any fugitive will be dealt with through the bi-lateral arrangements which are already in place. As to how these countries in question will process the extradition papers will demonstrate their bona fide on bi-lateral and international obligations. As far as Fiji is concerned there is no Mara or Tonga/Fiji situation. It is a Rudd and McCully spreading their wings to save face situation.

We have since 1 July 2009 through the Strategic Framework for Change stated that elections are to be held by September 2014. We have not detracted from this position and there is no evidence to say otherwise. Our focus is to grow the economy; modernise our laws, provide tangible protection and benefits through law and targeted policies to women, children and the disadvantaged Fijians; put in place a merit based system; remove ethnic politics; liberalise our economy by inter alia relaxing foreign investment rules, creating competition and providing incentives; eradicate systemic corruption; empower Fijians through the building of infrastructure, educational institutions and improving technological and telecommunications capacities; restructure the civil service and outsource to the private sector and put in place an electoral system that treats all Fijians alike and gives one person one vote.

Rudd, McCully and Mara are three men with their motley crew of opportunists attempting to salvage their personal reputations which are at stake of their own doing.Unlike them the Fijian Government will follow all international law and protocols based on candour and for the benefit of all Fijians and the rest of the Pacific Small Island States.