Australia and New Zealand condemn Fiji takeover

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Friday, April 10, 2009

The international community has condemned the Fijian president's decision to abrogate the constitution.

President Ratu Josefa Iloilo abrogated the country's constitution earlier today in response to a Court of Appeal decision declaring the removal of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and the appointment of military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister unlawful.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd condemned the move, saying that it would take Fiji backwards. He called for the government to obey the court of appeal's ruling and hold elections promptly.

"This is the right course for Fiji and the only way forward for the people of Fiji," he said.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said that the abrogation of the constitution "will merely compound the problems faced by ordinary Fijians".

"The President's decision, no doubt prompted by the Commodore, to override the constitution, sack the judges, and depend upon the military to keep an unlawful regime in power, will compound the already serious economic difficulties confronted by Fiji," McCully said.

In a televised address this morning, President Iloilo abrogated the constitution, revoked all judicial appointments, and appointed himself as head of state. He said he would appoint a new interim government in the coming days to implement the reforms of the People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress and pave the way for "true democratic and parliamentary elections" to be held by September 2014.

Fiji's government was overthrown by a military coup in 2006.


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