Pacific Media Watch

4 August 2010

FIJI: Some media understand need to 'shut people up', says Bainimarama

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Fiji's regime leader Voreqe Bainimarama: Justifies clampdown on media. Photo: RealFiji
'Only military can save Fiji'

6951 SYDNEY: Fiji's self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama says only the military  can get his country back to democracy - and "we'll need to shut some people up".

Commodore Bainimarama, who is also Fiji's military leader, says he doesn't trust politicians, judges or the public to return to democracy.

"I don't trust the people," he told ABC television's Foreign Correspondent tonight.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup and has delayed elections, sacked judges and cracked down on the media, sparking a bitter row with Australia.

He justified his clampdown on media freedom by saying that some media outlets understood his regime's need to bring about reforms before democracy could be installed.

"They understood that at some stage we'll need to shut some people up, and stop this from bringing about instability," he said.

"Those reforms will never happen if we open everything out to every Tom, Dick and Harry to have their say."

Commodore Bainimarama said he had silenced the Methodist Church and some chiefs because they were politicised and had been misleading the nation.

"I need to have them silenced," he said.

The region's pre-eminent regional group, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), is meeting in Vanuatu this week but Fiji has been suspended.

Commodore Bainimarama said he did not want to be in the group because it was subject to infighting, and Australia and New Zealand were  
dominating it.

"They crept in slowly like the proverbial camel, you know, with their head in, and then the front legs, and then the back legs, and all of a sudden the owners of the tent were out and they were inside the tent," he said.

He said Australia and New Zealand were "not Pacific islanders" and should not be in the PIF.

Commodore Bainimarama reiterated his plan to reform Fiji's constitution to be free of racial politics, and hold elections in 2014.

He would not be drawn on whether he would run for prime minister, saying he could not make that decision now.

Fiji's constitution sought to set aside some seats for ethnic blocks. At the heart of Fiji's trouble lies a power struggle involving the large Fijian Indian community and different indigenous groups. - Sydney Morning Herald/AAP/Pacific Media Watch

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons