15 December 2008

Visa sanctions could get another NZ High Commissioner fired in Fiji

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Relations with Fiji are looking to deteriorate with a looming threat to fire the New Zealand Acting High Commissioner in Fiji over visa issues, reports The New Zealand Herald.

The government imposed New Zealand  visa sanctions on the incumbent military regime and those related to the Fijian military, who overthrew the ruling government in 2006. 

Fijian leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama is asking the New Zealand government for an exemption from the sanction so that George Naceva, the son of his official secretary, can study in New Zealand on a New Zealand student visa.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his government would consider their options diplomatically.

"All I can say is that when you have sanctions of the sort we have in regard to Fiji, there are often pressure points and issues that arise," he said.

"We try to manage those issues in a constructive fashion."

The government has imposed strict New Zealand visa sanctions on several high profile Fijians recently, including the daughter of the permanent secretary for health, the Under-20 soccer team to travel to their World Cup tournament in Tahiti, and the Under-20 touch football team.

According to The Herald, the regime is becoming increasingly agitated by the sanctions and will call the situation a "serious diplomatic incident".

"The sanctions are certainly meeting their mark.  They are frustrating to members of the regime. And on the other side of the coin opponents of the regime went out of their way to encourage us to maintain them," says McCully.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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