Nauru 'disappointed' by NZ comments

  • 08/07/2015
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully (Lydia Anderson)
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully (Lydia Anderson)

The Government of Nauru insists there is no breakdown of democracy in the tiny island nation, after Prime Minister John Key said he isn't ruling out changes to funding arrangements to the country amid concerns about the deterioration of democratic rights.

The New Zealand Government is the principal funder of Nauru's justice sector and it has been urged to take action in light of recent events, which have included the arrests of opposition MPs and a ban on local media and citizens using Facebook.

Without naming Mr Key directly, Nauru Justice Minister David Adeang said in a statement officials in New Zealand were making "rash comments without understanding the facts".

"Contrary to reports in some sections of the media, there is certainly no breakdown in democracy or any other turmoil in Nauru. We are merely upholding the rule of law and those who break the rules will be arrested," Mr Adeang said.

"It is true, several opposition MPs are before the courts because of their alleged involvement in a violent parliament riot last month and they will be provided with a fair trial."

Mr Adeang said President Baron Waqa welcomed the chance to speak to New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in Sydney on Friday.

He also said there have been positive discussions between the president and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop earlier this week.

Mr McCully earlier in the week said he is seeking a meeting with representatives from Nauru's government in Sydney during the Pacific Island's Forum foreign minister's meeting.

Mr Adeang described the funding - which goes to the island's judicial and border protection programmes - as much-needed, and said his country was grateful for it.

On Monday Mr Key said what's happening in Nauru is "worrying to us".

"We're not ruling out that we won't change what we're doing," he told reporters, in reference to funding.

Asked if he thought New Zealand and Australia needed to co-ordinate their responses to the problems in Nauru, Mr Key said that wasn't absolutely necessary.

"But a response from both Australia and New Zealand will be beneficial."

A legal challenge by an opposition politician in Nauru to allow him to return to his family in New Zealand was delayed today.

Opposition MP Roland Kun was pulled off a New Zealand-bound plane by Nauru officials on June 17 and had his passport cancelled.

He has not been charged with anything but authorities say he was involved in protests at parliament during which three opposition MPs were arrested and have left him trapped on the island indefinitely.

He denies any involvement.

NZN