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Bainimarama hits back at critics

Published: 6:47PM Tuesday March 10, 2009 Source: AAP

Fiji's military ruler Frank Bainimarama has told "interfering" outsiders like Australia to butt out of his country's affairs, warning he won't be dictated to.

The self-appointed prime minister has released a series of statements attacking several organisations and individuals who have criticised his leadership and failure to hold democratic elections.

He described one critic as a "waste of breath", another as "a little mouse that sits in the corner and squeaks", and a third as a groveller who has "an empty dark hole" where a beating heart should sit.

A leading academic on Fiji relations, Australian Professor Brij Lal, says the latest outburst is further evidence that Bainimarama has little idea how to manage public relations.

"His attacks just show him up as a military man who is out of his depth but who has had a taste of power and doesn't want to let it go," Lal said.

Fiji was supposed to go to the polls this month, but this election deadline, like many others, slid past without Bainimarama - who led the December 2006 coup - naming an election date.

His stalling has angered the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which have both dictated new timelines for Fiji's path to democracy.

But Bainimarama's statements released on Tuesday make it clear he is not prepared to take direction.

"We are not going to have an Election in 2009 just to please the CMAG," he said.

"When we decide the date to have an election, in terms of national interest in Fiji, the CMAG and the PIF will have no choice but to accept that.

"We are not going to be dictated to on this matter."

Bainimarama also hit out at members of several political groups who had publicly criticised Fiji's slow path to democracy.

He described the International Bar Association (IBA), which recently published an unflattering report on Fiji, as "a mouse that squeaks when it thinks it roars".

Lal said Bainimarama was sounding increasingly defensive as pressure on his leadership builds.

"He's losing support from his old allies like (Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael) Somare and the power has clearly got to him," Lal said.

"He's not speaking like a leader but he knows he can get away with saying outrageous things because he controls the levers of power."

The first international deadline to announce an election is May 1.

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