New Zealand: Fiji coup leader installing military officers throughout government

Fiji's coup leaders are installing military officers in key positions throughout the government, raising concerns among neighboring countries, New Zealand's leader said Monday.

"One has to note with concern that the Fiji military is placing its own people right through the public sector, the police, various commissions," Prime Minister Helen Clark told reporters. "There has been quite a considerable militarization of public life in Fiji."

Armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama has appointed military officers to posts, including police commissioner, director of prisons and top diplomats at the United Nations, Malaysia, Beijing and Japan.

Clark delayed till midweek announcing details of tougher sanctions against Bainimarama's regime in response to the expulsion of New Zealand's top diplomat on June 14 for allegedly meddling in Fiji's domestic affairs.

Clark rejected the charge and promised to tighten sanctions first imposed in early December, after Bainimarama seized power in a bloodless coup.

The sanctions tightening "will focus around that visa and visa-transit area," Clark said, without disclosing details.

New Zealand has already banned members of the regime and their relatives from travelling to New Zealand, and halted all aid funneled through Fiji's government.