Australian and New Zealand policies over Fiji have backfired and both countries will need to tread carefully from now on, says Pacific Media Centre director David Robie.
Condemning the crackdown on media and dissent and the purge of the civil service since the Easter putsch, he said on Shine TV a wrong move by Fiji’s neighbours could plunge the Pacific country into a deeper crisis and isolate it from the region.
“China is waiting in the wings”, said Associate Professor Robie in an interview with Allan Lee, adding Australia and NZ had too much to lose if they played their cards wrongly. He criticised the lack of Pacific affairs coverage in New Zealand media, saying there was not enough contextual reporting.
“New Zealand expects Fiji to fit into a tidy little Westminster democratic box, or model, that we are familiar with,” he said.
But Fiji was now moving into a fundamental power shift that would have far-reaching consequences for the region.
While there was potential for vital electoral and other reforms in the long run, there was also a risk of a Suharto-style military dynasty emerging.
He praised Fiji journalists for a “creative and courageous” response to martial law.
In a Radio New Zealand Sunday interview, David Neilson, a member of the Commission of Inquiry into Fiji's 2006 election, said the NZ government could do more to create a robust electoral system in Fiji.
There were many technical issues to overcome to remove 'bias and corruption' in its electoral system.
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