Pacific Media Watch

14 April 2014

FIJI: NZ 'misguided' in believing elections will be free and fair

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Fijians have been campaigning for democracy since a military coup in 2006.

SUVA (Radio New Zealand International / Pacific Media Watch): Another opposition party in Fiji has warned that things are not free and fair in Fiji and that the democratic elections in September are likely to be flawed.

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said again on Friday that Fiji wasmaking good progress towards free and fair elections in September.

But the United Front for a Democratic Fiji's co-ordinator, Mick Beddoes, told RNZI's Mary Baines:

"If the foreign affairs minister of New Zealand prefers to take what they say as what is on the ground, then that's fine but as far as what is actually going on, then no, things are not fine, things are not free, things are not fair and everybody, it appears, except the New Zealand and Australian governments seem to know it".

Beddoes said McCully was getting his information from the very same regime leaders who had usurped democracy in 2006, RNZI reported today.

The international community just wanted any election, even one that was not free and fair, said Beddoes.

He warned there was no point in supporting a flawed election because this would only be followed by yet another military coup.

"We need to fix our problems and fix them comprehensively if we are to avoid this thing [a military coup] happening again in the future," said Beddoes.

The UFDF also became the latest group to state that Rear-Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama had contravened his own military decrees without any repercussions, even though the UFDF had laid complaints.

Beddoes said that it was important to keep laying complaints nevertheless.

"The day will come, if not this September, but the day will come when our democracy does return and the rule of law is re-established. And those who did not act will have to then explain themselves as to why they never took action. We hope there is somebody in the midst of all of this who is upright and who is just, and will see the difference between right and wrong and do something about it," Beddoes told RNZI.

Ten days ago, the Fiji Trade Union Congress pointed out that Bainimarama had breached a military decree that said all independent candidates for the elections must submit the signatures, addresses, occupations and voter numbers of 1000 supporters or else their nominations would be valid.

The candidates could also be fined US$ 27,000 or face five years in prison for breaching the military decree.

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Pacific Media Watch

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