Fiji’s last democratically elected leader has been jailed on corruption charges.

Laisenia Qarase was sentenced today to one year in prison after being found guilty of abusing his office and failing to perform his duties.

Court documents say the 71-year-old Qarase failed to disclose a private investment interest in three companies that he was helping to manage in an official capacity.

His supporters say the charges were politically motivated.

Qarase served six years as prime minister before being ousted by Fiji’s current leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, during a 2006 coup.

Bainimarama has made clear his disdain for Qarase. He has promised to hold free elections in 2014.

Fiji is drafting a new constitution ahead of the elections, which will likely include provisions to prevent convicted criminals running for office.

(This article was published on August 3, 2012)
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