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Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 11:05 UK

Australian anger over Fiji threat

High Commissioner James Batley, Australia government image
Mr Batley has received two separate threats on his life

Australia has asked Fiji to increase security for its top diplomat in the country after he received his second death threat in two weeks.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith called the threats against High Commissioner James Batley "credible".

But he said if they were an attempt to intimidate Australia, they would fail.

Australia has strongly criticised the government of Frank Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, and has imposed sanctions.

Speaking to parliament, Mr Smith did not release specific details of the threats.

But he said if they were "an effort to intimidate the Australian government about its policy on Fiji or an attempt to intimidate our high commissioner... they will not have any such effect".

He said he had written to Fiji's foreign minister to express deep concern and to seek "urgent and full co-operation in responding to our formal requests for additional personal protection and security".

Mr Bainimarama ousted Fiji's elected leader Laisenia Qarase in a bloodless coup in 2006.

He says he will return the country to democracy by holding elections in 2009.

But critics accuse his government of clamping down on dissent - particularly after two Australian newspaper publishers were deported earlier this year.

Last month, Mr Smith described the deportation of The Fiji Times boss Ewan Hannah as a "reprehensible act" which continued the pattern of "severe erosion of human rights" in Fiji.


SEE ALSO
Fiji deports Australian publisher
02 May 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Fiji coup chief queries army role
17 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Fiji
23 Jan 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Fiji
23 Jan 08 |  Country profiles

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