Fiji PM rallies support for his party in New Zealand
Fiji's Prime Minister was in Auckland to garner support for his Fiji First party ahead of next month's election.
Fiji's Prime Minister was in New Zealand over the weekend to rally support for his Fiji First party ahead of next month's election.
Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama spoke at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau to hundreds of supporters and a small number of vocal protesters.
He was challenged on issues of land protection, health resources and possible future coups, and received messages of support for his government's achievements.
Alex Perrottet was there.
Marching from Manukau library, in South Auckland, a group of about 25 angry protesters blamed the New Zealand government for letting a dictator into the country. Rajesh Singh, an MP in the government ousted by Frank Bainimarama's coup in 2006, said Fiji is not a free country.
RAJESH SINGH: This guy has blood on his hands, he has destroyed our country and he made all these false promises that he will look after the people, that he will give a transparent, accountable government and all this.
The group scuffled with Fiji First supporters in the carpark, before security separated them. Outside the centre, hundreds had gathered, mostly Fiji Indians, who were largely in support.
Yeah Bainimarama is doing everything right, he's honest, he's fair, he's for everybody. He's not only for the, for one community, he's for the whole of Fiji. He will win with a landslide victory.
There's fairness in this country, in Fiji, after a long time. I was born in Fiji, my parents were born in Fiji, we know what happened. Being a civil servant, I knew how the government was being run, so this guy has done the right thing. He has brought fairness across the board, and people are happy.
Among the i-taukei there were mixed feelings.
I know next time I go I'll get a rental car so I can drive right around. Because the road used to go just as far as Wainibuka, up the north, but now it's gone right through and that's all he's doing.
Not all of us are supporters, I am against Bainimarama. His policies against the Fijians in Fiji, the land issues, the scholarships given to Fiji, to the Fijians, he has stopped the Fijian affairs scholarship.
Inside, the Fiji leader received a big welcome. He pitched that the new constitution was truly one for all Fijians, earning cheers from the majority of the audience, but his speech was constantly interrupted by dissidents, shouting "go home" and "publish the auditor's report" - referring to the government's reneged promise to make treasury documents public.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: That's the bottom line. We believe the politics of deceit, the politics of fear-mongering, of being negative, should not exist... This election is a choice between on the one hand, represented by SODELPA, NFP, Fiji Labour Party and PDP. They are all divisive personal politics where individuals want to win power at any cost so they can maintain their privileged position.
He decided not to engage with the taunts, but at times couldn't avoid addressing them in some way.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: I've been told not to worry about the devils.... but seriously, I have another term for that... they are nothing but a bunch of losers.
Another political opponent, and member of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement, the former chief of staff of the Fiji Labour Party, Shailendra Raju, had pointed out earlier that as late as last week, the government had again moved the goal posts and amended a decree to rule out three National Federation Party candidates.
SHAILENDRA RAJU: The Attorney-General, Khaiyum, is the one who is making these rules and he is also a competing candidate for Fiji First so there's a clear conflict of interest and you know, we are appalled to see the way the New Zealand government is bending backwards to appease the regime in Fiji.
Mr Raju says the election on September the 17th will have little credibility. But even some of Rear Admiral Bainimarama's supporters were looking for confirmation there would not be any more coups. A persistent man from the floor pressed the leader to guarantee no future upheaval.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: You are asking a hypothetical question. You don't know what will happen, no one here knows what will happen in the next two weeks.
What is the guarantee that it will not happen again?
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: You vote me, you vote me into parliament, and there will be no coup.
The leader only granted exclusive interviews to a small selection of outlets and media were banned from asking questions at the rally. Rear Admiral Bainimarama will also travel to Australia for a similar meeting.
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