Doubts over legitimacy in Fiji vote
Saturday 13 Sep 2014 6:22 p.m.
Mr Bainimarama was in his town, with his people, and he loves it. And they love him. There he’s almost worshipped. Where he goes, they follow.
Fiji’s military dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister is wrapping up his election campaign. Today was his final rally before Wednesday’s election and the first since he seized power eight years ago.
Fiji held its last election in March 2006. In December that year, Mr Bainimarama launched a military coup and put Fiji under military rule.
There are fears here about what would happen if he didn’t win on Wednesday.
“That’s a subject we really don’t want to talk about,” he says.
“There has to be; there will be [another coup],” says Nik Naidu of the Coalition for Democracy. “It’s just a matter of whether it will happen next week or if it will happen in a few years’ time, but coups and more coups and more coups.”
“Amnesty International is concerned that there is a climate of self-censorship and fear in Fiji,” says Amnesty International executive director Grant Bayldon. “What we are seeing is a pattern of intimidation of government critics, of harassment. People are simply afraid to speak out in Fiji right now.”
To ensure it is a free and fair election, a multinational observer group has formed in Fiji. It includes five New Zealanders. Their aim is to support Fiji’s election preparations and help return the country to democratic rule.