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Bainimarama's visit 'disgusts' NZ Fijians

By Sophie Ryan

Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Photo / Greg Bowker
Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Photo / Greg Bowker

The presence of Fiji's interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in Auckland has "disgusted" Fijians living in New Zealand.

Around 30 people holding placards and Fijian flags has marched in Manukau to the Vodafone Events Centre where Mr Bainimarama is holding a Fiji First festival to campaign for his political party ahead of elections in Fiji this year.

Protestor Shailendra Raju said it was "simply disgusting" that Mr Bainimarama was in Auckland this weekend.

"It's mind-boggling that after all that has happened the New Zealand government is willing to facilitate this," he said.

"I think the appeasement policy of John Key's government has gone too far."

He said he felt the government had "turned a blind eye" to evidence the elections in Fiji were not fair.

When the protestors arrived at the gates of the Vodafone Events Centre they were told to keep their protest to the road.

The protesters were told Mr Bainimarama hadn't arrived yet and to keep the protest to the road.

Protestors became enraged and demanded to be let in by security.

One of the organisers of the protest Frank Robalakadava said New Zealanders should be angry the government has allowed Mr Bainimarama in to the country.

"The whole international community knows he is holding the whole of Fiji hostage at the point of a gun."

Mr Robalakadava came to New Zealand as a refuge in 2009.

"We want to be visible and drive a point here that we don't want him in New Zealand. New Zealand has never allowed a dictator in here before. Who will be next? Mugabe?"

The protestors were met by some Fiji First supporters who told them they were not wanted here.

Sebastian Joseph left Fiji in 2003 because of the racism he experienced as an Indian in Fiji.

He said Mr Bainimarama has created a Fiji that is fair for both native Fijians and Fijian Indians.

"[The festival] is going to be really good. I've got a lot of respect for [Bainimarama]."

"He gave us fairness and the ability to call ourselves Fijians.

"I was staying in Fiji without an identity before he stepped in."

Mr Joseph said the presence of the protestors wouldn't ruin the positive atmosphere at the festival.

He said everyone at the event believed the elections would be fair and Mr Bainimarama would be elected prime minister "by a landslide".

- APNZ

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