Saturday, September 24, 2011

Military Leader Who Overthrew Government of Fiji Speaks to UN General Assembly

The government of Fiji was overthrown in 2006 by a military coup.  Since that time, the country has suffered from lack of basic freedoms and attacks on the judiciary, the country's lawyers, its bar association, and other defenders of human rights. 

Here is the UN Press release concerning the remarks of the country's military leader, speaking yesterday to the UN General Assembly.


Fiji is about to enter a formative period that will result in the first ever elections based on common and equal suffrage rather than racial categorization, the country’s Prime Minister has told the United Nations General Assembly’s annual general debate.

Speaking before the Assembly last night, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama – who took power in the Pacific archipelago after a coup in 2006 – outlined the details of a political road map that is designed to culminate in national elections by September 2014.  Between September next year and 2013, Mr. Bainimarama said, a new constitution will be drafted based on principles developed in the People’s Charter for Peace, Change and Progress.

“The road map clearly states that in the process the new Fijian constitution must do away with racial categorization and discrimination, so that for the first time in Fiji’s history, Fijians will go to elections in 2014 on the basis of common and equal suffrage.”  He added that electronic registration of voters for those elections will begin in January next year.

The small country has been marked by recurring tensions between ethnic Fijians and other ethnic groups, and related disputes over the allocation of some parliamentary seats on the basis of ethnicity.  Mr. Bainimarama said the road map “will undo decades of undemocratic laws and policies inherited from our colonial past and entrenched in past constitutions, which have impeded our nation’s progress.  “This is a determined move to create a society based on substantive equality and justice, and respect for the dignity of all Fijians.”

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