Fijian PM urges int’l support for nation “in deep rut”

By Xinhua

United Nations : Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama urged the international community on Friday to understand and support his country that he describes as being “in a deep rut.”

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“Fiji’s overall situation is that it is in a deep rut,” Bainimarama said in an address at the general debate of the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. “It needs the understanding and support of the international community, to be able to move forward, to regain its dignity and its rightful place,as a responsible member of the international family of nations.”

Bainimarama, who also serves as the commander of Fiji’s military forces, acknowledged that he removed an elected government last December, but said “such action was taken with extreme reluctance.”

He said by the time the military intervened in December, Fiji’s overall governance situation “had regressed to a catastrophic level.”

“The international community needs to fully understand the special local context of the Fiji situation.”

Bainimarama said the flawed “democracy” that came to practice in Fiji was “marked by divisive, adversarial, inward-looking, race-based politics.”

“Fiji has a coup culture — a history of civilian or military coups executed in the interests of a few and based on nationalism, racism and greed.”

He vowed to remove the coup culture and to commit to democracy and the rule of law.

Describing Fiji’s situation as complex and its problems “deep-rooted and structural,” Bainimarama called for “constructive dialogue and engagement” with the international community.

He pledged to make legal changes in the area of legal reform to ensure true equality at the polls.

“At present, all citizens have the right to vote for two candidates, one for a national seat of any ethnicity, and another from a communal race-based seat,” Bainimarama said. “This in turn has kept our races apart.”

He said countries demanding Fiji immediately return to democracy do not really understand “how distorted and unfair our system is both legally and culturally.”

“We seek the understanding of the international community to help us rebuild our nation within the true spirit of internationally acceptable precepts of good governance, and a democracy that can be made to work, and be sustained, in Fiji,” he said.

He urged that sanctions against Fiji be lifted.

“We desperately need help; not a closing of doors,” Bainimarama said.