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Protestors kept back at Fiji leader's NZ rally

AFP

File photo taken in Suva on March 5, 2014 shows Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama speaking at a ceremony as he resigns as military chief of the South Pacific nationFile photo taken in Suva on March 5, 2014 shows Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama speaking at a ceremony as he resigns as military chief of the South Pacific nation

File photo taken in Suva on March 5, 2014 shows Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama speaking at a ceremony as he resigns as military chief of the South Pacific nationFile photo taken in Suva on March 5, 2014 shows Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama speaking at a ceremony as he resigns as military chief of the South Pacific nation

Hundreds of people, including a smattering of protestors, turned out in Auckland Saturday as Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama staged a campaign rally ahead of the Pacific nation's first elections in eight years.

Security was tight and the protest group was kept well away from the military strongman who is the self-appointed leader of Fiji and has formed his own political party to contest the polls scheduled for September 17.

There was a brief clash before his arrival at the rally as opponents called out that he was a dictator while supporters said he was a good man.

Opposition parties in Fiji have accused Bainimarama's military regime of stacking the deck against them with ongoing changes to election regulations.

They claim the changes disrupted their planning and were designed to give Bainimarama's FijiFirst Party an unfair advantage.

During his speech, Bainimarama said that since overthrowing the government in a bloodless military coup in 2006 he had instituted a rule that was not based on race.

Afterwards he refused to take questions from journalists.

Fiji has experienced four coups since 1987 stemming from tensions between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians descended from sugar plantation labourers shipped in by the British during the colonial era.

Latest opinion polls in Fiji show 60 percent support for Bainimarama to be the legally elected prime minister.

Of Fiji's population of nearly 900,000, about 7,000 live in New Zealand.

Date created : 2014-08-09