Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[pima.nius] Bainimarama: I know I am still alive

11:50 AM |

Bainimarama: 'I know I am still alive'

By Michael Field

Fiji military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama has declared he is alive and rumours of his death were invented.

In a taped interview with the government-owned and military-censored Fiji Broadcasting, Bainimarama began: "Good morning from China. I know I am still alive. I know there's been some stories from New Zealand that I've suffered a heart attack and died."

However Bainimarama did not explain why he is in China and when he will be returning home.

Rumours of his death, he said, had come from New Zealand.

"I think they probably heard that I was going to play in the World Cup next year and they pretty scared - so they came up with these rumours hoping that something happens to me so I don't turn up for the World Cup," he said.

"I guess the rumours will continue seeing that they have not been able to achieve their aim in Fiji - so they will continue to assist their government in rumour mongering. It'll be a while before they can kill me - that's for sure - seeing that I'm getting ready to play the All Blacks next year."

Deepening the mystery though, Bainimarama a short time ago told FijiLive he could not make it back to Fiji to deliver the budget on Friday.

He said Fiji's Attorney-General Sayed-Khaiyum would do it instead.

Fiji's domestic media operates under tight censorship and no public questions have been raised over his absence from Fiji for two weeks.

He removed himself from Fiji and did not return even as his defence minister Epeli Ganilau last week suddenly quit and then his military appointed attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum deported the chief executive of the country's major exporting company, Fiji Water.

Earlier today the ministry issued a new statement saying that as Bainimarama was not coming back to Fiji at the moment, another soldier, Colonel Timoci Natuva, would "replace" the commodore at the opening of an electrification project.

Last night the ministry issued a statement in which they said they had spoken with Bainimarama in China.
He told them that budget preparations are progressing well in anticipation of the 2011 Budget Announcement on Friday.

"My government's focus will be on improving efficiency in various regulatory bodies...," he said.

Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in 2006.

Victor Lal, a Fiji lawyer who blogs regularly on politics, claimed last week that Bainimarama was in China for medical treatment.

He quoted an unnamed Chinese Embassy official saying that the commodore was "very sick".

Bainimarama is known to have a heart condition and prior to his coup received regular medical treatment at Wakefield Hospital.

Since New Zealand imposed "smart" sanctions on the Fiji regime, Bainimarama has not been able to travel to Wellington for treatment.

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