Samoa PM acknowledges Fiji leader’s choice

Samoan PM Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi meets with Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama before their meeting at the Prime Ministers office in Suva earlier in August. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

APIA,12 SEPTEMBER 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) — Samoa’s prime minister says differences with his Fijian counterpart disappeared after Fiji’s return to democracy.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was asked about his relationship with Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in an interview with Savali newspaper.

The pair have had sharp exchanges in the past with Bainimarama once calling Tuilaepa a yapping lapdog always on the attack.

Tuilaepa said after the 2006 Fiji coup he had spoken out against the emergence of a seemingly radical political system in Fiji which centered on the military.

He said Bainimarama was defending a new system to transition Fiji to a new order to raise the welfare of all in Fiji.

The Samoan prime minister said Fiji had enormous social and economic challenges absent in Samoa.

He said he was also aligning his views with the Pacific Islands Forum which had suspended Fiji in 2009 for overthrowing an elected government.

Tuilaepa said he and Bainimarama were often misunderstood and quoted out of context by journalists out to make a fast buck.

“Good visionary politicians are often misunderstood and quoted out of context deliberately by undernourished and hungry looking business minded journalists out to make a fast buck,” he told Savali.