So long, Fijians?

For those who may have been following the strange saga of whether or not Fijian troops have been barred from UN peacekeeping missions, the tale may — or may not — have taken a twist the other day, when Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced rather unequivocally that the UN was not accepting any troops from Fiji. At issue is the fact that the government of Fiji, which came to power in a coup two years ago, still has not held elections. Since troops going to UN peacekeeping missions would come from Fiji’s military, this would indirectly lend support to Fiji’s military junta.

Australia and New Zealand have a problem with this, and they have led the effort to make sure that no new Fijian troops join UN peacekeeping missions. Except…Fijian peacekeepers haven’t been deployed to new missions since the 2006 coup, and even under current policy, Fijian troops currently deployed — such as 500 in Iraq — will not be forced to leave. So it’s unclear whether Rudd was articulating standing UN policy, or was calling for stricter measures against Fijian peacekeepers.

The military leader of Fiji, for his part, kindly told Prime Minister Rudd to bug off. We’ll see where this goes.

UPDATE: The S-G’s spokesperson clarifies that using Fijian soldiers in peacekeeping missions proceeds on a “case-by-case basis.”  No new troops have been accepted, but previously serving contingents remain.  Jenny Hayward-Jones at The Interpreter has more.

(image of Fijian peacekeepers in UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, from United Nations Photo)