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Tuesday, April 14

Travel Warning for Fiji VIstors

New Zealanders should think twice about visiting Fiji, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says.

He has also raised the possibility of travel and trade bans to the troubled Pacific nation but said they were not preferred options.

New Zealand High Commission staff had managed to visit TV3 reporter Sia Aston and cameraman Matt Smith, who are being held in Fiji before deportation, Mr McCully said.

They are expected to be on a flight today.

Local media are being censored and papers are no longer covering political events.

The latest turmoil in Fiji was prompted by its Court of Appeal ruling last Thursday that Commodore Frank Bainimarama's regime, in power since staging a 2006 coup, was illegal under the country's 1997 constitution.

In response, the country's ailing 88-year-old president Ratu Josefa Iloilo sacked the judges, dissolved the constitution, ruled out any election for five years and briefly removed Cdre Bainimarama before re-appointing him as prime minister.

Mr McCully shared his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith's description of the situation in Fiji as a dictatorship.

"We've effectively got a self-appointed dictator who has abrogated the constitution, sacked the judges, tried to suppress media freedom and clamped down on the liberties of citizens. It doesn't get much worse than that," Mr McCully told Radio New Zealand .

New Zealand would consider its response over the next few days after consulting Pacific Islands Forum nations and the Commonwealth.

To Recall, The re-appointment of Commodore Bainimarama as Fiji's interim Prime Minister is a sham and the events that surround his appointment take his country down an even darker path, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said.

source: NZPA

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