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Pacific News: Doubt Hangs Heavy Over Fiji Election

Pacific Affairs: Cloud Of Doubt Hangs Heavy Over Fiji 2009 Elections

By Selwyn Manning – Reporting on the Pacific Islands Forum

Fiji Elections: Within 24 hours doubt was cast over a commitment by Fiji's military leader Frank Bainimarama to hold an election under the current constitution in 2009.

On Wednesday, Pacific Islands Forum leaders paraded before the press an agreement between them and Frank Bainimarama. But before mid-afternoon Thursday, the military leader was criticising their joint statement and claiming it was inaccurate.


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Fiji military leader and prime minister, Frank Bainimarama.

The prime ministers of Tonga, Fred Sevele, and New Zealand, Helen Clark, and Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer had earlier emerged from a meeting between Bainimarama and leaders of the other Pacific nations stating Fiji's military leader had agreed to free and open elections before the end of the first quarter of 2009.

They said he had agreed to hold the elections under the Fijian constitution and that all Fijian political parties would be eligible to stand for election. It was believed that Frank Bainimarama had agreed to allow deposed Fijian prime minister Laisenia Qarase's SDL party to stand for re-election.

But within hours of the announcement, Bainimarama told Fijian reporters that the SDL party would not be able to stand under policies it advocated in 2006. And on Thursday, he told reporters in Tonga that part of the constitution will need to be amended prior to the 2009 elections. That amendment would include ensuring a one person, one vote, type of clause.

To follow is raw Scoop audio of the respective interviews:
1: Sevele, Clark, Downer.
2: Frank Bainimarama.
3: Helen Clark's reaction.


Audio: Prime ministers of Tonga, Fred Sevele, and New Zealand, Helen Clark, and foreign minister of Australia, Alexander Downer, announce agreement between Pacific Forum leaders and Fiji's interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama for Fiji to hold elections in the first quarter of 2009:

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Audio: Fiji military leader and prime minister, Frank Bainimarama PIF wrapup:

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Audio: New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark's Pacific Islands Forum Wrapup:

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Scoop Photo Essay


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King Siaosi (George) Tupou V. (left)


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Pro-Democracy Rally

With the Nobles back in full control of Tonga, the pro-democracy movement was prevented from being with 8 kilometres from the centre of Nuku'Alofa. The movement's elected People's MPs were barred from attending Pacific Forum dinners and official gatherings. And three of the island nation's top three MPs are fighting sedition charges laid against them after the events of Black Thursday – the riots of November 2006 that left 80 percent of Nuku'alofa destroyed by fire.


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