Fiji will not impose trade bans against Australia and New Zealand or expel businesspeople from those countries, the military prime minister said Friday.
Armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama sought to calm fears that he might retaliate against Australia and New Zealand for criticizing his Dec. 5 coup by imposing restrictions that would harm businesses.
Australia and New Zealand have banned anyone involved in the coup from traveling there, and announced other sanctions. The U.S and Europe also have imposed restrictions.
Bainimarama has said he will consider retaliating against Australia and New Zealand if diplomatic efforts to repair ties fail, but he has not spelled out how, leading to speculation he might expel expatriates and launch trade bans.
"I would like to categorically state that no such bans will be imposed," Bainimarama told reporters.
"The private sector people in Fiji, whether they are from Australia or New Zealand or another country ... we will not interfere with their legitimate business interest in Fiji," he said.
Bainimarama has announced he will send a trade and diplomatic delegation to Asian countries to try to build ties in the region as an alternative to Australia and New Zealand, the South Pacific nation's main trading partners and aid donors.
He ousted elected Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase after a long dispute about government-backed bills that would have granted amnesty to plotters in a 2000 coup and handed lucrative coastal land rights to indigenous Fijians.
Bainimarama says he will call elections to restore democracy after he has purged the bureaucracy of corruption.