Fiji rugby star Nakarawa back tracks on army
A Fijian who was allowed into New Zealand to take part in the Rugby World Cup on the condition he left the military is now back in the forces that run the country.
Leone Nakarawa’s return to the military is despite statements earlier this year from Foreign Minister Murray McCully who announced he would get a visa as he had quit the forces and their was little chance of his returning.
Nakarawa has been named in the army side to play police in the annual Ratu Sukuna Bowl match on Friday.
Pro-democracy blog site Coup Four and a Half says Nakarawa was spotted at the Army Training Group grounds and is now with the Territorial Forces.
“As we warned when … McCully, revealed Nakarawa had been granted the visa, the regime has made a fool of New Zealand,” the blogsite says.
McCully’s office said the minister was not immediately available to comment on the move, but would check the reports.
The Fiji military seized power in a coup in 2006 and since then its members and their families have been banned from entering New Zealand.
McCully eased the restrictions for lock Nakarawa.
“While we would normally take a little longer to provide an exemption or lift the sanction in respect of a person resigning from the military, in this case we agreed to act more quickly given the particular nature of the request,” McCully said.
Green Party spokesman Keith Locke at the time said that McCully was being tricked and that Nakarawa would simply return to the army after RWC.
McCully said at the time he did not believe that would happen. He said he had made inquiries and was satisfied there was not a significant risk of the player slipping back into the military.
He said the government wants to provide incentives for people in Fiji to part company with the military and the regime.
Prime Minister John Key, at the time, said he understood Nakarawa had offers from international clubs to play for them after the World Cup.
However Fiji may yet pay for the stunt.
Nakarawa is regarded as a front runner for the Fiji Sevens side and will need visa exemptions again in Australia and New Zealand.
Fiji, which earlier this year threatened to boycott the Wellington Sevens, has yet to announce whether they care coming.