Page last updated at 05:53 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 06:53 UK

UN condemns military rule in Fiji

Frank Bainimarama, 9 April 2009 (image from Fijian government website)
Army chief Frank Bainimarama has strengthened his grip on power

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the Fijian military regime's takeover of the South Pacific nation.

It said these were "undemocratic decisions" and "a step backwards".

Fiji's military ruler Frank Bainimarama overthrew the elected government in a 2006 coup. He promised reforms but has refused to hold elections until 2014.

He was reinstated as interim prime minister earlier this month under emergency regulations in spite of a court ruling his regime was illegal.

Following the ruling by the Court of Appeal - Fiji's second highest court - the president dissolved the constitution, dismissed judges and reappointed Mr Bainimarama as leader.

Exacerbated tensions

The UN Security Council has demanded the restoration of democracy and fair elections.

"The members of the Security Council are deeply concerned about the situation in Fiji, where undemocratic decisions were made, including the abrogation of the constitution," said Mexico's ambassador to the UN, Claude Heller.

"The members of the Security Council express hopes that Fiji will make a steadfast advancement towards democracy and that fair elections will be held as soon as possible."

A statement by the UN secretary general's office said that "perpetuating illegitimate military rule in Fiji has only added to the country's woes and exacerbated tensions and divisions".

It said that preparations for talks to resolve the crisis had been temporarily suspended by the joint mediators, the UN and the Commonwealth.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have said Fiji has effectively become a military dictatorship and have called for the restoration of democracy.

Mr Bainimarama insists his rule is legitimate.

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