Bainimarama in visa wait for NZ visit

Last updated 14:57 16/07/2014
Frank Bainimarama
COUP LEADER: Frank Bainimarama.

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Fiji's military strongman Frank Bainimarama wants to come to Auckland but is waiting to find out whether he can get a visa.

Fiji is heading to democracy-restoring elections on September 17 in which Bainimarama is contesting as leader of the "Fiji First" party.

Since staging a coup in December 2006, Bainimarama and other coup plotters in the military have been banned from entering New Zealand.

Bainimarama told Auckland's Indian Radio Tarana that he wants to campaign here.

"There is a plan for me to come over to Auckland," he said.

He was waiting for a visa.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the minister, who has just returned from aboard, has no immediate comment on whether a visa will be granted.

He has been beaten to the Fiji campaign trail in New Zealand by the man he deposed in 2006, Fiji's last democratically elected prime minister Laisenia Qarase.

There are around 2000 Fiji nationals registered to vote in New Zealand.

Qarase is campaigning for the Social Democratic Liberal Party which appears to be predominantly indigenous Fijian.

Bainimarama told Tarana he has "no regrets whatsoever" about the 2006 coup.

He was last in New Zealand a fortnight before staging his coup when he was staying with a family member at the Trentham Military Base outside Wellington.

Before leaving Fiji he had explicitly warned he would stage a coup on his return and so while he was in Wellington the then Foreign Minister Winston Peters organised crisis meetings at Government House.

Qarase was flown by the Royal New Zealand Air Force to Wellington and the then Governor-General Anand Satyanand, who has Indo-Fijian parents, was used in a bid to fend off a coup.

It was to no avail and Bainimarama seized power.

Fiji's first coup plotter, Sitiveni Rabuka, was not allowed entry into New Zealand for nearly four years after his two coups in 1987. Having since restored democracy and losing in elections, he has been a regular visitor here.

Fiji's second plotter in 2000, George Speight, remains locked up, convicted of treason in Fiji's maximum security jail.

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