Opposition MP used as 'scapegoat' in Nauru

  • 08/09/2015
Nauru's President Baron Waqa (Reuters)
Nauru's President Baron Waqa (Reuters)

By Boris Jancic and Lisa Martin

An opposition MP being held in Nauru without charges says he's being used by the government as a scapegoat for the loss of justice system funding.

Nauru's President Baron Waqa has strenuously denied Roland Kun is being kept as a political prisoner on the island following New Zealand's suspension of about $1.2 million in aid to Nauru's legal system over what it considers a breakdown of rule of law and democratic principles.

"There is no issue over rule of law," Mr Waqa told reporters at the Pacific Island Forum in Port Moresby on Monday, adding he was disappointed by the decision.

He disputed Mr Kun, who has been held in Nauru without charges since being pulled off a plane and having his passport cancelled in June, was a political prisoner.

He said Mr Kun wouldn't get his passport back until all investigations are complete but declined to give a time frame.

But Mr Kun told NZ Newswire there was no investigation ongoing, and it was just an excuse to hold him indefinitely in what he called a politically motivated attack.

The government was now directly blaming him for the loss of the funding, saying he was the sole cause of the suspension, he said.

"New Zealand has been more than reasonable. They've had talks for more than a year and the government of Nauru has failed to address those concerns," he said.

"There's absolutely no interest in the government for mending their ways and they think they can get away with that because New Zealand next to Australia is such a small donor."

Mr Waqa declined to comment on whether Australia would be making up the shortfall in New Zealand funding.

Mr Kun hasn't been charged with any criminal offences but three of his opposition MP colleagues are facing court action over their alleged participation in a protest outside parliament in June.

He denies any involvement in the protests.

He is among five opposition MPs who have been suspended from Nauru's parliament since mid-last year for speaking to foreign journalists and criticising the government.

Mr Kun's family have lived in New Zealand since his partner, Katy Le Roy, was last year fired as Nauru's parliamentary counsel and had her residence status revoked in what Mr Kun called a personal attack.

She now lives in Wellington with the couple's three children and is banned from travelling to Nauru.