Fiji Dictator Defies Calls for Democracy

Commodore flouts deadline, says he needs another 5 years
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2009 6:06 AM CDT
Fiji military commander Frank Bainimarama leaves the officers' mess at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in the capitol Suva.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
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(Newser) – The military leader of Fiji, where a coup overthrew the elected government in 2006, defied international demands for a restoration of democracy. Frank Bainimarama had been given a deadline of today to announce an election date, but the commodore said that he would not allow a return to democracy for at least another five years. Australia and New Zealand have accused Bainimarama of turning Fiji into a military dictatorship.

In recent days, Bainimarama has sent troops and police into media offices to block opposition to his rule, and human rights groups have expressed concern about "draconian measures." The commodore said that "there are a hell of a lot of changes we need to come up with before we have an election," but the prime minister of New Zealand was not impressed: "You've got a dictator up there now who doesn't want to listen to anybody else other than himself."