27 Sep 2009

Be patient while we fix Fiji, Bainimarama tells UN

6:53 pm on 27 September 2009

Fijian leader Voreque Bainimarama has told the UN General Assembly that international critics of his regime need to show patience as political and constitutional reforms are introduced to overcome years of "mismanagement, corruption and nepotism".

Mr Bainimarama said that the abrogation of the Fijian constitution in May this year had been a necessary step to fill a legal vacuum created by an earlier court ruling.

Without naming New Zealand and Australia, he said that Fiji's neighbours had shown a "surprising lack of understanding and disregard" of his country's situation and that the big powers of the South Pacific needed to stop trying to dictate its future.

They had the right to disagree, he said, but "that does not give them the right to interfere with our efforts to build a better country for our people".

Critics 'don't appreciate Fiji's peculiar history'

The Bainimarama regime, which came to power in a coup in 2006, has been under international pressure to hold early elections, with the latest move being the Commonwealth ministerial action group's push to have Fiji excluded from next year's Commonwealth Games.

Mr Bainimarama is sticking however to a plan to introduce a new constitution by September 2013 with elections a year after that. Critics of the long timetable did not appreciate Fiji's "peculiar" history, he told the UN.

He also expressed disappointment at "what appears to be a unilateral decision on the part of the United Nations to debar our country from any new peacekeeping operations".