Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fiji leader a thief, says Samoa PM

Fiji leader a thief, says Samoa PM
www.fijilive.com - 24/02/2009

The Samoan Prime Minister has launched an attack on Fiji’s leader as tension mounts over Fiji’s failure to deliver on its promise to the Pacific Leaders Forum and return the country to democratic rule.

According to New Zealand Television, Tuilaepa Sailele said Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was stealing public money by appointing himself as interim Finance Minister and paying himself F$200,000 in unclaimed leave.

The Samoan leader mocked Bainimarama's full military garb and the need for an army, saying "perhaps Bainimarama fears a combined canoe attack from Tuvalu and Kiribati," its closest neighbours.

Sailele also claims that the military man has no plans to relinquish the leadership.

“I strongly believe that Bainimarama has no intention of relinquishing power and returning Fiji to democratic government,” Tuilaepa said.

He also told Fijians to wake up.

“Stand up and reclaim your government. It is your God-given right,” Tuilaepa said.

The strong criticism comes as the May 1 deadline for announcing a 2009 election draws nearer.

Fiji will be removed from the Pacific Islands Forum if it fails to fulfil the ultimatum, set by the group's 16-nation members at a meeting in Papua New Guinea last month.

Bainimarama has claimed that the islands were coerced into agreeing to the hard line approach by Australia and New Zealand, but several small pacific island leaders have hit back, saying it was a consensus decision.

He has also indicated that electoral changes, no matter how long it takes, will have to be done first before Fiji holds elections.

Bainimarama is expected to respond to Tuilaepa’s comments in a statement tomorrow.

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