#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: WikiLeaks: Aust diplomat went behind Rudd's back

Monday, December 20, 2010

WikiLeaks: Aust diplomat went behind Rudd's back

By Philip Dorling, Sunday Age 
December 19, 2010
AUSTRALIA'S hardline policies are driving Fiji's economy towards collapse while failing in their objective of bringing an end to the country's military rule, according to leaked US diplomatic reports.

The reports reveal that Australian policymakers and diplomats have been ''deeply frustrated'' with the lack of success of Australia's efforts to isolate the regime controlled by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, but see no viable policy alternatives.

They also reveal that former parliamentary secretary of Pacific island affairs Duncan Kerr (pictured above) last year broke ranks with the then Rudd government and privately sought to encourage the US towards diplomatic re-engagement with Suva - despite the abrogation of Fiji's constitution and Commodore Bainimarama's decision to defer elections until 2014.

Mr Kerr, who has extensive experience of South Pacific politics, believed ''Bainimarama cannot give up power as he would end up at the mercy of his enemies, and suggested that the international community should find a safe way for him to step down … or we'll have to do business with him''.

Mr Kerr was described as being pessimistic about Fiji, highlighting the severe deterioration in its political, economic, and social conditions, and the potential costs for Australia in the event of economic collapse.

''[Mr Kerr] said, 'We've made a cabinet-level decision that we don't want to see Fiji move to a social and economic collapse,' '' the embassy reported to the State Department in Washington.
''Calling it the worst possible outcome, he said that Australia would be responsible for picking up a failed state, at a cost much higher than the [Australian government's] intervention in the Solomon Islands, while seeing Australia's progress in strengthening weak Pacific Island nations undermined by Fiji's collapse.''

He said Fiji verged on ''economic disaster'' and Australia would support intervention by international financial institutions. He expressed concern that after Fiji had been expelled from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth, Australia would have exhausted its diplomatic arsenal with no clear next step.

But he said the ''diplomatic momentum and effort invested in punishing Fiji is difficult to stop, and a decision to change course must ultimately come from Prime Minister Rudd''.

Mr Kerr encouraged the US to explore new approaches to Fiji, and ''stressing that he was speaking personally, Kerr said that it may be useful for the US to ask us the obvious questions on what happens if and when Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth without showing any moderation in the regime's behaviour''.

The embassy said Mr Kerr's approach was ''an attempt to spur re-evaluation'' of policy towards Fiji while the Australian government was on ''cruise control toward increasing disengagement with Fiji, without achieving any desired effect''.

But his attempt to stimulate new thinking was undercut by senior Australian diplomats who reaffirmed the government's hardline policy of isolating the Fijian regime.

In September last year, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade assistant secretary Geoff Tooth told US diplomats that Fiji had enough foreign currency reserves to last another 12 to 18 months before it faced a balance of payments crisis and ''the inevitable fall''.

A year later Australia's policy of seeking to diplomatically isolate Fiji is unchanged but has come under more pressure as China has stepped up its economic and political ties with Fiji. The US has also moved to rebuild diplomatic contacts in Suva.


Anonymous said...

This could have been very easily solved. In fact I don't know why DFAT is saying they have exhausted all avenues.
It's very simple, the solution is this: Withdraw all Fijian troops from wherever they are being employed by the United Nations. Because this is where Bai is getting his support.
I'm sure the Fiji Democracy Movt told the Aust govt this and lots of people mentioned it but the UN decided to continue employing Fijian soldiers.
You take away financial support of the soldiers and Bai will fall flat on his face.
They do not support Bainimarama because of some Ideological reasons of racial equality or about rooting out Corruption or some clean-up bullshit! No!
Most of them don't like him but they serve him because the reason is very simple: it's their stomach and their families and they need the money for food or forschool fees etc etc.
So for Australia and US not to see this is a bit disappointing.
Their intelligence need to do little bit more homework.
You need to be a Fijian to understand the mentality of things going on here. So, STOP the money and everything (coup) will STOP.
So from a Fijian point of view:
1)Bainimarama will never ever give up power.
2)Secondly, there will be no election.(Like I said , you have to understand his psychology). He might let you have an election in 2014 (to satisfy international curiosities) and then he will just do another coup
3)Thirdly, the only way to stop all this nonsense is to Send all Fijian troops in the UN,send them home.
No money, no power.
(You also have to understand the fickleness of the soldiers in Delainabua. They will serve whoever is giving them the money!)

Anonymous said...

We should not read too much into Duncan Kerr's comments to US officials. It is clear that he was a frustrated minority!
What is revealing though is how the oppposition to Bainimarama, whether in Fiji or outside are totally uncoordinated and do not complement the economic sanctions of the international community.
The vocal opposition by former Land Force Commander should be taken at its real face value. JB had ironically undermined other senior officers in the hope that he would come out on top. He sacrificed others for his own ambition which he naively thought, he could conceal. He was a fish in a glass bowl. His enthusiastic writings from a Canberra are symptomatic of someone trying to cover up his guilt - but alas to no avail. As a first step he should first seek pardon from all those he double crossed.
He should also seek forgiveness from the SDL and Qarase because he gave them the impression that he could deliver but was never able to! He was inflating his worth.
We therefore can only judge him by his past.
As for Frank, he is not succeeding. He has gone around in circles and has gone back on his word on the Qoliqoli Bill etc.
He is basically implementing the SDL manifesto. So the provinces are going with him becuase he is now doing what they want.
The assessment from Canberra that Frank fears that he will be at the mercy of his enemies is totally correct.
Frank is the only who is now deluded into thinking that he is winning. His enemies are now drawing closer because they see that he is weakenign and in no time he will be swallowed up and Fiji will return to the Way it Should be!
He should see what happened to Rabuka. There was really very little anger against Rabuka - yet he paid a price when he lost office.
Against Frank, the anger, even from those within his closest circle, is unbearable!!!

Anonymous said...

1 Dudd + Another.

Rudd's still in charge - so what's changed in AUS Pacific (Fiji) policy?

Find it incredulous that D. Kerr SC - having left politics is now adding his two bobs worth?
Maybe if he had shown some ticker(balls)& initiative when he was in office - things might now be different? Only positive being in this continous sorry saga is that his young replacement is equally incompetent - invisible.

Joe said...

@Anon 5:42 PM
Add to that, passports/travel docs. of Aussies involved with this illegal regime should be cancelled immediately as was the case in the 2000 coup when Downer cancelled Jim Speight's passport. There are provisions in the Australian Passports Act 2005 to do this. Not enough is being done, just noises from the international community. How can a dictator survive for so long in the neighbourhood?

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day,diplomats will act in the interest of Australians and Australians do not want another corrupt Mugabe in their neighbourhood.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6.59pm - well-rounded assessment. Helped answer some of my questions. Many thanks!

Stealth. said...

@ Anon 10:39.

Worst of both Worlds.

50% Mugabe - 50% Chavez.

Put Up or Shut Up? said...

If D. Kerr SC is so concerned about eventual costs to AUS of another failed state? Suggest he utilise his more than adequate Gov pension - investigate Rudd's (DFAT)current hard line stance on Fiji's collapsed Sugar Industry?
Cost both social & financial - AUS - Fiji?

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