Some Sanity at Last: Sevele to Meet Bainimarama

Radio Australia reports that Tongan Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele is meeting Bainimarama this weekend.  Tonga has tended to be the odd man out among  Polynesian nations in the Pacific Forum, by following a more independent position than those that always support New Zealand.

Sevele is also thought responsible for Bainimarama's supposed first "broken promise" when, at the Forum meeting in Tonga, he announced there would be elections in 2009.  The story goes that  the Tongan PM persuaded Bainimarama to come up with a date to placate Australia and New Zealand, saying it could always be changed later. This was the genesis of the "broken promise."

Extract from the Radio Australia report:

The Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Fred Sevele, will hold meetings with Fij's military backed leader, Frank Bainimarama, this weekend.

Dr Sevele says he wants to ensure the interim government in Fiji is aware its neighbours still want to help, despite political differences. "It's not a question of, you know, I'm gonna be friendly with those, and not with those," he said."Tonga's foreign policy has always been be friends with all and enemy with none."

Dr Sevele also says Pacific Island states shouldn't have to choose sides as the diplomatic stand-off between Fiji, and Australia and New Zealand, continues. He says Pacific nations can maintain bilateral relations with both sides of the dispute.

"We live in a world that is global, that is in someways contracting as it were, and we have got to interact, we have go to communicate, we have got to be in touch," he said.

Dr Fred Sevele is the chairman of Pacific Islands' Forum Ministerial Contact Group and his talks with Commodore Frank Bainimarama, come after Australia and New Zealand, also members of the group, continued their criticism of Fiji.

The interview on which the report  was based.


Tongan tango said…
I'll be astonished if Tonga comes to the MSG meeting, such is the pressure it will have been under from Australia and NZ not to break ranks with the Forum. Kiribati is very different in being totally reliant on Fiji for its very existence, especially for communications and trade. So I'll wager that maybe the Tuvaluans will come to Suva too for the same reasons but the other Polynesians will stay away. Of course, if I'm wrong and Tonga attends, Frank will have pulled off something remarkable - driving a wedge right through the Forum and severely damaging its credibility. Let's see how strong those "blood ties" really are.
Blood ties said…
Well the blood ties are pretty strong, especially though President Nailatikau, whose grandfather was the King of Tonga. He's also just had the present King George visiting Fiji, with both of them spending time together at the Intercontinental. Wouldn't you have liked to have been a fly on the wall there? Tonga has to give lip service to democracy in Fiji but it's had its own rocky path to democracy and understands how hard it can be. I think the Tongans might come.

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