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Sailele says Bainimarama doesn’t know how democracy works

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 2, 2009) – Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, has labelled Fiji’s new roadmap as unacceptable.

Fiji’s interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says work on a new constitution that scraps the ethnic-based system will start in 2012 and he has called for assistance from the international community.

Commodore Bainimarama took power in a coup in 2006 and last April, the president said he had abrogated the 1997 constitution.

Tuilaepa says there seems to be confusion in Fiji over how the democratic process works.

"I do not know what kind of constitution he’s talking about when there’s no parliament. There needs to be a parliament to approve a constitution. He ought to understand that democracy in Fiji is a non-negotiable condition for the international community to give any help."

Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith rejected Commodore Bainimarama’s appeal for engagement from the international community, while his New Zealand counterpart declined to comment.

There has been no reaction from the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum which suspended Fiji two months ago for failing to organise elections this year.

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