BAINIMARAMA TO UN: FIJI COMMITTED TO DEMOCRACY

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 30) – Fiji's interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has made a commitment to the United Nations conventions on human rights, rule of law and democratic governance when he spoke at the UN General Assembly earlier today.

Bainimarama in his 22-minute speech to 156 world leaders also claimed progress into "the upholding of the existing Constitution, investigations into the alleged abuse of human rights, maintaining the independence of the judiciary and preparatory work for the return of democracy".

He also requested the assistance of the [world] leaders present to rebuild Fiji and move the country forward.

"I am mindful that I stand here today in your august presence, that you may see me as the military leader who removed an elected Government," he said. "I cannot begrudge that because that indeed is a fact. We seek the understanding of the International Community, to help us rebuild our nation within the true sprit of internationally acceptable precepts pf good governance and a democracy that can be made to work and be sustained in Fiji," Bainimarama said. In his speech, Bainimarama spoke on the 1987 and 2000 coups and told the leaders present that Fiji has a "coup culture". He also tried to justify his part in the 2000 coup and told the leaders that he had "with utmost reluctance" removed the Laisenia Qarase government in December 2006.

Bainimarama also briefed the General Assembly on the interim administration's attempts to establish the People's Charter for Change and Progress.

He said the charter would allow Fiji's people's to make a "comprehensive agenda of actions and measures, as Fiji's own way of addressing its problems".

Bainimarama claimed at the General Assembly that the charter received "very strong support within Fiji, in particular from highly reputable and respected civil society and community leaders in the country".

He also took the opportunity during his speech to give Australia and New Zealand a dressing down for their travel bans imposed as sanctions against his regime.

"Some in the international community including the closest of our neighbours in the Pacific have seen it fit to impose punitive measures upon Fiji," Bainimarama said. "These powerful States are undermining our attempts to rebuild our nation on strong foundations and undermining our attempts to appoint people of merit and honesty to our State institutions regardless of race and religion.

"Current sanctions target any person appointed by the interim government. This is hypocrisy its worst on part of those States as they are clearly undermining our efforts to promote and practice good governance."

Bainimarama called for greater understanding for Fiji's situation and reiterated his regime's objective to bring Fiji back to "sustained parliamentary democracy".

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