By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – Despite harsh criticism from the Pacific community, Fiji’s interim prime minister has told the United Nations that democratic elections will not be held next March as originally promised.
Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the interim prime minister, addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, saying that for democratic elections to occur, he must first rebuild his country. According to Bainimarama, a democratic election system cannot coexist with the “evils of self-interest, incompetence, intolerance, and greed.”
In addition, Bainimarama claims that his duty to rebuild his country may necessarily take precedent over adhering to Fiji’s constitutional laws:
“To-date, my Government, which remains in effective control of governance in Fiji, has done all within its power to adhere to the current Constitution. We recognize that this is the supreme law of our nation. At the same time, we have come to also recognize that the very foundation, on which we have been seeking to build our nation, has been shaky and weak.”
In his address, the prime minister also criticized Australia and New Zealand for imposing travel sanctions on Fiji following Bainimarama’s bloodless coup of the Federal government in 2006. Bainimarama explained that the sanctions hurt Fiji’s progress toward building a more democratic election process.
Last month, the Pacific Forum, a peacekeeping group of Pacific Nations, threatened to suspend Fiji from the union if the country did not follow through with its democratic elections in March 2009.
Last week, Bainimarama wrote the Pacific Forum asking for reinstatement. The Forum has yet to reply.
For more information, please see:
Fiji Times – Deeper into the quagmire – 29 September 2008
Radio New Zealand International – Fiji interim PM says he has done his best to adhere to constitution – 28 September 2008
ABC, Radio Australia – Fiji urges UN to help remove coup culture – 28 September 2008
UN News Centre – Fijian leader tells UN that planned parliamentary elections must be delayed – 27 September 2008