Showing posts from May 3, 2009

(+) Ba Chiefs Pledge Support to President

Fiji Live reports that in a traditional visit to Government House today, more than 60 chiefs from 20 tikina (districts) in Ba, Fiji's most populous province, pledged support for the Tui Vuda, President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda. Ratu Iloilo said it was a relief to see his people and his province supporting him in the decisions he has made in the past few weeks. He reminded the chiefs that the decision they have made today is important since it will also affect the next generation who are relying heavily on them to make the right choices for a better Fiji. He called on his people to truly worship God and always work together with the other races, and ensure that they live together in harmony.

A Fiji Live poll shows that to date 38% of those polled thought Fiji's Forum suspension justified, and 62% did not.

(o-) Justice Is What Justice Does

"Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done."

The release from prison on Wednesday, on Community Supervision Orders, of eight soldiers and a policeman, barely four months into their four year four month sentence for manslaughter raises serious doubts about the sincerity of the Fiji Government, and does nothing for its credibility. I do not know who authorized their release but Attorney-General and Acting PM Aiyaz Khaiyum must have known about the decision and if he did not know then, he does now.* It is not too late for him to correct this wrong.

No government purportedly intent on justice can condone the unecessary, brutally prolonged and cowardly assault on 19-year old Sakuisa Rabaka, in January 2007 (yes, it took that long to come to court). But the early release of his assailants does just that. The assault may be "written off" as a one-off abuse of power by nine over-zealous or sadistic individuals; their release -- uncorrected -- can only …

(o) Fiji's Geographic Importance

On cue to reinforce Fiji's geographic centrality and ease of access (and, incidentally, cause further misgivings about its suspension from the PI Forum) comes the news that all UNESCO National Commissions within the Pacific region will convene for a week-long meeting in Nadi on Monday. They will discuss issues and papers for the 2009 General Conference in Geneva; UNESCO programmes and budget for 2010-2011; regional submissions for funding ("collectively, as small island states, they can make an impact with a loud and clear voice"); further uniting regional educational systems; and the development (sic!) of UNESCO's Suva office.

(o+) Forum Suspension: All Stick, No Carrots

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Keeping Fiji in, ‘safest option for region’ May 08, 2009 09:03:10 AM An Australian academic says ejecting Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum is an extension of Australia’s failed “sticks and no carrots” approach, which he says has not worked since December 2006.

“Bainimarama has said that Fiji won't bow to external pressures such as our strict travel bans or Australia's mean-spirited decision to cut Fiji from our Pacific agricultural guest-worker scheme,” says Anthony Bergin, “Ejecting Fiji from the Forum just extends our failed approach. It's in a similar vein to the crusade that Australia and NZ have led to ensure that Fiji can't supply peacekeepers to the UN,” says Bergin.

Author of Democracy Postponed: Fiji and Director of Research Programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, Bergin has made the co…

Mixed Reactions to Fiji's Suspension from Forum

Click on map to enlarge. MH Marshall Is., FM Fed.States of Melanesia, PW Palau, NR Nauru. Lighter shading associate members New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

(-) Niue. Niue Premier and Forum Chairperson, Hon. Toke Talagi, in announcing Fiji's suspension and full participation in the Forum on May 2nd, did so "with considerable sorrow and disappointment" adding that the decision was difficult but unanimously decided by Forum leaders in Port Moresby on 27 January." It is," he said, also "particularly timely given the recent disturbing deterioration of the political, legal and human rights situation in Fiji since 10 April 2009.” [This, presumably, was his own opinion, not an official statement by the Forum.]

(-) Australia. PM Kevin Rudd said "Australia's position is hard line." Fiji could also be suspended from the 53-member Commonwealth group by September if Bainimarama does not make progress towards democracy.

(-) PNG. PM Sir Michael Somare s…

(o) "The Main Reason" for the Coup?

It would seem from a document posted on Sai Lealea's blog that Bainimarama was planning to remove the Qarase government as early as 2003. A statement written and signed on 11 March 2004 by Col. Alfred Tuatoko (and witnessed by Lt Col. S V Raduva and Cdre (N) T T Koroi) stated that Bainimarama had ordered them to make preparations to remove the government "except for the MFA&ET and the GCC..... if his term of Comd RFMF was not renewed ... He also said he must remain as Comd because there was no one who could be Comd and pursue the May 2000 prosecutions as he is doing." Bainimarama told the officers to "put the plan together quickly or else you would be surprised I am going down (dou cakava vakatotolo na plan de dou qai kidacala au sa liu sobu)."

Officers who did not agree with him were told to "stick to their principles, take all outstanding leave and [then] do the honourable thing and resign." No one would be forced to resign. Col. Tuatoko says…

My sincere apologies to Prof. Wadan Narsey....

.... for publishing incorrect comments on his Niukula lecture (post 28 April, The Horrifying Consequences of the Coup.) He is not, as I reported, "a long-standing NFP supporter or an opponent of FLP." Quite the contrary. He was a founding member of the FLP but left the party prior to the 1987 election, due to policy differences. He was a NFP MP from 1996-99, having stood unopposed on the NFP ticket, but as a joint candidate with the FLP. Since 1999 he has had no political affiliation. My reference to his brother-in-law Brij Lal might have suggested to readers that he supports the 1997 Constitution because of this relationship. This is not the case. He thought, and still thinks, the Alternative Vote electoral system advocated by the Reeves Commission, and later included in the 1997 Constitution, to be "disastrous for Fiji." Readers may read more of Wadan's views on electoral systems, coups and the economy on the USP website.

Snippets: Maori Party for Dailogue; Forum Suspension Will Hurt Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji; Regime Paranoid:Dorsami Naidu

(o) NZ's Approach "Harsh" and "Wrong": Maori Party
NZ Maori Party co-leader TarianaTuria New Zealand's harsh approach is wrong, and that Fiji's isolation by the PI Forum is not the answer. "We've talked about this and we believe that there is a way forward and we should be talking with Fiji rather than adopting the stance that we have," she says. "Dr Sharples [] is very keen to look at how we might be able to use NZ leadership and he thought of Tumu Te Heuheu, the king, that maybe a very small delegation could go and talk with Bainimarama [who says] he is attempting to combat racism and certain things that have been going on in Fiji for some time...we think we should find out exactly what is happening there."

But PM John Key says the delegation could only go in a private capacity, and he'd be surprised if a Maori negotiating team succeeded where others have failed. "The government is going to continue to ne…

(o) Outsider's Media Freedom Report

The main reason given for the extension of the Emergency Regulations was a purportedly irresponsible Fiji press. Calm was said to be need after the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, and a "free" press would not help this process.

Did the Government have reason for concern? For the past 12 months the Fiji media has published reports by a string of outside observers (e.g., the International Bar Association, the US world report on human rights, and the International Jurists) without informing its readers of the full identity and credentials of these observers. Readers were left assuming they were qualified, informed, objective and unbiased, even though their sources came exclusively from opponents to the then Interim Government.

The latest report, on media freedom, by Freedom House ranked Fiji 85th out of a total of 195 countries, Tonga 73rd and TimorLeste 78th. They were classified, together with one-third of the countries reviewed, as "partly free". The other 1…