23 Jun 2014

End to Fiji 'coup culture' urged

8:19 am on 23 June 2014

Fijians in New Zealand are being urged to use their influence over family in their homeland to bring an end to Fiji's 'coup culture' at the general election on 17 September.

Nearly 2000 Fiji citizens in New Zealand have registered to vote in what will be the first election since Frank Bainimarama's coup in 2006.

The campaign to win their votes and the support of the wider Fiji community started over the weekend with the first of the political parties - the National Federation Party - holding a public meeting in Auckland on Saturday.

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Frank Bainimarama Photo: RNZ / Republika

Party president Tupou Draunidalo said expatriates have an important say, with their votes and financial influence over family in Fiji.

She said they could use that influence to bring about real change in Fiji by refusing to support Frank Bainimarama and his Fiji First Party.

Ms Draunidalo said a vote for the Fiji First Party would legitimise the coup and encourage the military to think it was acceptable to do it again.

National Federation Party leader, Biman Prasad said people in Fiji are fed up with coups, and this year's election is the best chance for Fiji to return to democracy, but the country was still along way from being free and fair.

He said there was a lot of confusion and fear, and the electoral commission responsible for running the election needed to exert its authority.

The next Fiji campaign meeting is for SODELPA - the new name for the mainly Fijian party of former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, who was ousted in the 2006 military coup. He will speak at a dinner for supporters in Auckland on 28 June.