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Fiji`s military ruler says ousted PM still popular

Last Updated: Sunday, July 26, 2009 - 11:10

Canberra: Fiji`s military ruler says the prime minister he ousted in a coup three years ago would be returned to power if democratic elections were held tomorrow in the South Pacific island nation.
In a television interview to be screened by Australian public broadcaster SBS late today, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Fiji`s self-appointed Prime Minister, reiterated that he would not bend to international pressure to hold elections before 2014.

He said he wanted to first create a new Constitution that gave every Fijian an equal vote to replace the system scrapped by the military coup that guaranteed indigenous Fijian candidates a parliamentary majority.

Bainimarama said if an election were held tomorrow under the current electoral system, "he would win it," referring to deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase.

"We`re trying to change the mindset of the people from racial issues that developed in the last 10 years to what we want to take Fiji to, equal suffrage," Bainimarama said in an interview on Dateline."

Qarase is an indigenous Fijian who in December 2006 became the Pacific nation`s fourth prime minister to be removed by a coup in 20 years.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, July 26, 2009 - 11:10

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