Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is worried, according to an Australian media report that Fijian counterpart Voreqe Bainimarama will take centre stage at the upcoming Pacific Island Forum Leaders summit.
According to the Australian, “Bainimarama is looming as the spectre who may seize, even in his absence, centre stage at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ summit Kevin Rudd is hosting in Cairns next month.”
It reports that Commodore Bainimarama risks hijacking the most important international meeting Mr Rudd has hosted as Prime Minister.
Commodore Bainimarama intensified his defiance of Mr Rudd in an interview with SBS TV, broadcast last night on Dateline.
“If I have to fight anyone, I will fight anyone,” Commodore Bainimarama said.
“The situation in Fiji is such that a radical change needs to be brought in, and radical change cannot be brought in by some weak organisation. “It has to be a strong entity, and there’s no other strong entity than the military.”
The leaders of the 15 Pacific nations besides Fiji met in Port Moresby in January, and decided then to suspend Fiji if it failed to announce by May 1 a timetable for elections this year.
Instead, the Fiji government installed by the military in December 2006 abrogated the constitution, sacked judges and said no election would be held until 2014. The forum then suspended Fiji.
Commodore Bainimarama told SBS: “I am not going to give in to have an election. We are not going to have an election just to please Australia and New Zealand.
“The international community think we are a failed state, that we are a failed African state, that you see me driving around in a tank. “Everything is working well. There is a government in being. It’s not a failed state.”
He was especially scathing about the European Union, which axed $43m in support for Fiji’s sugar industry for this year. It did so, it said, “in the absence of any indications that a legitimate government will be in place in 2009”.
Commodore Bainimarama said, “People think all you have to do is give them $50m and they have an election. Three years down the line, they have another coup. That’s OK. We have lots of money. That’s what we don’t want here.”