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Fiji coup leader stands firm on election delay

Last Updated: Monday, August 3, 2009 - 16:04

Suva: Fiji`s defiant coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama on Monday rejected mounting international pressure to stage elections by next year, saying he stands behind his blueprint for the Pacific island nation.

Fiji has already been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum for delaying a return to democracy and faces suspension from the Commonwealth in two months if it fails to commit to new elections by 2010.

But Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup and has ruled out the possibility of democratic elections before 2014, told the FijiLive website his timeline would not be derailed.

"People have tried to change us from the last 18 months but what we have set out to do will not change," he said.

Bainimarama has said Fiji cannot have elections until it has a new Constitution which removes an ethnic-based voting system introduced in the 1997 Constitution.

That document was scrapped by the military leader in April at the same time as he sacked the judiciary and introduced media censorship.

On Friday, the Commonwealth renewed its warning to Fiji that it would be suspended from the grouping in September if it failed to commit to holding new elections by next year.

But government spokesman Neumi Leweni told reporters Suva would not back down.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, August 3, 2009 - 16:04

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