United States urges Fiji to return to democracy

MELBOURNE Sat Nov 6, 2010 9:11pm EDT

Fiji coup leader and self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama speaks at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters during a food security summit in Rome November 17, 2009. REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte/Pool

Fiji coup leader and self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama speaks at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters during a food security summit in Rome November 17, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Filippo Monteforte/Pool

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday urged Fiji's military regime to return the Pacific island nation to democracy.

"We're going to be working, together, with Australia to persuade the military government in Suva to meet its commitment to bring democracy back to Fiji," Clinton said in a speech in Melbourne, where she was attending defense and diplomatic talks with Australia.

Fiji's self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama came to power in a coup 19 months ago and dismissed the country's judiciary and many public servants.

"In the short term, we would like to see steps that advance political freedoms, such as allowing professional civilians to return to key government ministries," Clinton said, according to a U.S. pool reporter.

Australia and New Zealand have repeatedly called for fresh elections promised by Bainimara, but he has delayed going to the polls.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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