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AUSTRALIA’S MARLES BLASTS FIJI POPULARITY POLL Parliamentary official says poll has no credibility

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 2, 2011) – A survey by a leading Australian research group, claiming people in Fiji back the military regime of Frank Bainimarama, has been reportedly ridiculed as absurd by the Australian Government.

The Lowy Institute poll was released last month to coincide with a meeting of Pacific island leaders in New Zealand, including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Australian newspaper, The Age, reported parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island affairs, Richard Marles, used a speech at the Lowy Institute to condemn the poll's methodology.

He said in a country like Fiji, where there is a repressive regime, it is obvious what the answer will be when people are asked what they think of the government.

Marles said the poll has no credibility and the people of Fiji deserve the right to elect their own government.

[PIR editor's note: The Lowry Institute for International Policy produced a poll that gave Bainimarama's approval rating as higher than two-thirds with respondents. The interim leader has a 66 percent rating of good support from people polled, and 65 percent believe Fiji is "heading in the right direction."]

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