Bainimarama waiting on visa to campaign in Auckland

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 15:35 17/07/2014
Frank Bainimarama
COUP LEADER: Frank Bainimarama.

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Foreign Minister Murray McCully will not say if Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama will be allowed here next month to campaign in democracy-restoring elections.

Bainimarama said he would fly to Australia on August 8 to campaign among expatriate Fijians there as head of a grouping called "Fiji First".

He has been banned from entering New Zealand since staging a coup in Fiji in December 2006.

Yesterday he told Auckland's Indian Radio Tarana he wanted to campaign here, but was waiting for a visa.

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

A spokesman for McCully said the minister did not want to comment on the case.

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

He has been beaten to the campaign trail here by the man he deposed in 2006, Fiji's last democratically elected prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, who is campaigning for the Social Democratic Liberal Party, which appears to be predominantly indigenous Fijian.

Bainimarama told Tarana he had "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 north of Wellington.

Today the Fiji Sun quoted Bainimarama as saying he would go to Australia but was waiting for a New Zealand visa.

"I'll be there to campaign and not to fundraise," he said.

He was aware of critics in Australia and was ready to meet with them.

In March Australia's Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop announced Canberra had lifted all travel sanctions against senior Fijian officials.

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