PM urges Australia and NZ to support Bainimarama

National, Normal

FIJI’s Melanesian neighbours will work to end Australia and New Zealand’s opposition to Fiji’s military regime, PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare says.
Following a regional leaders’ meeting last weekend in Fiji, Sir Michael said Australia and New Zealand should stop shunning Fiji’s military leader Frank Bainimarama.
“It will be difficult for them to change but with a lot of explanation and understanding, if Australia and New Zealand see what is happening in Fiji, there could be a change of mind and attitude,” Sir Michael told reporters after talks with his Solomon Islands’ counterpart Derek Sikua.
Bainimarama toppled Fiji’s elected government in a 2006 coup.
Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth and European Union aid to the Fiji government was put on hold.
Bainimarama has rebuffed demands for elections soon to restore democracy, saying he needs to carry out reforms and develop a new constitution before elections to be held by September 2014.
Somare was upbeat on the situation in Fiji.
“There is no feeling of military regime. Infrastructure is in place. The economy is picking up. Fiji is like any other democratic country,” he said.
He added that Bainimarama was trying to end friction with the ethnic Indian minority.
“What he wants to see is a real multiracial society.” – AFP