" New Zealand was among a group of Pacific nations that imposed sanctions on Fiji after the military takeover in 2006."
Wellington, Aug 6 - Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will travel to New Zealand Friday, his first visit to the country since he led a military coup eight years ago, Radio New Zealand reported Wednesday.

About 1,000 people, mainly Indo-Fijians, living in New Zealand were registered to vote in Fiji's elections Sep 17, said the report.

Bainimarama was due to make a campaign speech in Auckland and host a dinner for business people interested in investing in Fiji.

Radio New Zealand reported that his supporters said it was a private visit paid for by his Fiji First party, after which he would go to Australia to meet the Fiji community there.

Bainimarama would have no official meetings with New Zealand government representatives.

The report said Prime Minister John Key was comfortable with the visit, which followed the removal of travel sanctions on Fijian officials earlier this year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said there would be a basic level of facilitation for Bainimarama's arrival and departure.

Bainimarama stepped down as commander of the Fiji armed forces in March, formally separating the government and the military in a move welcomed by Fiji's neighbours as an important step in holding credible elections.

New Zealand was among a group of Pacific nations that imposed sanctions on Fiji after the military takeover in 2006.

Human rights groups have said the Fijian authorities have violated rights in the run-up to the elections with attempts to limit free speech, the right to protest and targeting of NGOs, trade unions and political parties to restrict public debate.


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