Pacific Media Watch

15 April 2014

FIJI: Bainimarama investigated for breaching own military decrees

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Rear-Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama - opposition party lays complaint.

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch / Radio New Zealand International):  Rear-Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama is being investigated by the Fijian police for breaching his own election-related military decrees, RNZI has reported.

Mick Beddoes of the opposition party, United Front for a Democratic Fiji, had laid complaints with the police about Bainimarama breaching decrees and had complained earlier this week that the police were doing nothing to investigate his complaints.

A police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro, told RNZI today that Bainimarama was being investigated.

Bainimarama is allegedly in breach of his own decree which says election candidates may not campaign without registering their parties first.

He is also being investigated for allegedly displaying Fiji's coat of arms on his Fiji First party campaign bus, in breach of the Coat of Arms of Fiji Act.

Breaching the decrees carry penalties of up to 10 years in jail, or a US$ 27,000 fine and if convicted, Bainimarama would not be able to contest the elections this September, RNZI reported.

Beddoes said if the police found that Bainimarama had not breached any decrees, he and the rest of Fiji would be interested in knowing their reasoning.

Beddoes told RNZI that the regime was breaching its own decrees "on a daily basis".

"They are making a mockery of the rule of law. The idea of my complaint is to expose the shortcomings of the administration in enforcing the rule of law. They are either going to enforce the rule of law equally to everybody or they are not, and either way, the way they handle my complaint will tell us all exactly what we can expect".

Dr Steven Ratuva of the University of Auckland told RNZI that the outcome of the investigation must be announced soon, because it had implications for Bainimarama's capacity to campaign ahead of the elections.

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