Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Frank Bainimarama should not be welcome in New Zealand

Over the weekend Fiji took another step back towards dictatorship with the arrest of the leaders of all opposition political parties, apparently for taking part in a forum which discussed Fiji's constitution. They have since been released, after being detained without charge for 48 hours, but it casts Fiji's status as a democracy in grave doubt. To point out the obvious, in a democracy people should be able to discuss changing the constitution by peaceful, democratic means without fear of arrest or prosecution. Clearly, that is not true in Fiji.

Coincidentally, Fijian Prime Minister (and former dictator) Frank Bainimarama is scheduled for a state visit to New Zealand next week. Labour's David Shearer suggests that this visit should be cancelled, and he's right. Given Fiji's questionable democratic status, we should not be rewarding its leadership with state visits - and if the persecution of the opposition increases, we should be re-imposing sanctions and travel bans.