Chaudhry Calls for Internal dialogue First — My Response

Chaudhry1Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry does not agree with the external-initiatives suggested by ANZ’s Michael Rowland or Jenny Hayward-Jones of the Lowy Institute, agreeing instead with the CMAG that called  for inclusive and meaningful dialogue among the people of Fiji and what Chaudhry called “their genuine representatives” — presumably meaning Laisenia Qarase and himself. 
He called for the immediate revival of the President’s Dialogue Forum, the resumption of dialogue, the restoration of he 1997 Constitution (with amendments “to the electoral provisions to make it non-racial and democratically acceptable”), the lifting of PER, and elections earlier than 2014. 

“Once the people of Fiji have reached agreement on a way forward, friendly nations can be called on to provide advice and technical assistance in implementing the electoral reforms and any other agreed changes.”

This sounds very reasonable except for one small detail:  it’s a sure way to return Fiji to how it was in 2006, probably with more coups to follow.  PER, as he says, will have to be lifted before there can be any meaningful dialogue; and it may be useful to recall the President’s Dialogue Forum before, instead or in conjunction with the dialogue on constitutional and electoral reforms scheduled for next year.  But I’m less sure about the role of the two old warhorses, Qarase and Chaudhry, in this dialogue. They had the opportunity before, and they blew it. A new breed of politician is needed.  

I have a suspicion, also, that when Mr Chaudhry talks about inclusive dialogue, he really means a dialogue of politicians (those steeped in the racial and factional politics of the past), whereas the dialogue that is needed should include a far broader group of interests and perspectives, such as those represented in the People’s Charter dialogue. 

And patching-up the 1997 Constitution is not the way forward, either.  True, it had the begrudged support of the Great Council of Chiefs and main political parties in 1997 but it was essentially an incomplete, compromise document that subsequent events showed  to  have many imperfections.  In additon to the very major changes needed to the constitution’s electoral and  racial provisions,  the new constitution will need to decide on the powers and authority  of the chiefs, the Prime Minister, Cabinet, the Opposition, Senate, lawyers, the military, and the President.  And these should be based on the principles of the People’s Charter that was endorsed by at least 60 percent of  Fiji’s adult population  — and is not mentioned at all by Mr Chaudhry!

Dialogue, yes, and soon, but  I also go along with Rowland, Hayward-Jones, Preston and Cole  (see postings below) and the increasing number of others who think sanctions have failed,  and that Australia and New Zealand, in particular, should review their  Fiji stance.


Another failed coup said…
Correct me if I am wrong but I understand the disastrous 2006 coup and subsequent chaos was undertaken by the military and the military controlled regime? So perhaps the best way to prevent any further coups will be either to remove the military altogether, or at least give it some professional courageous and loyal leadership that fully understand the role of a military in any nation with a future?
TheMax said…

I've been silently reading your blog everyday and I must thank you for a good job as always. Just wanted to let you know that we, the majority of the people of this country want a totally clean slate from the likes of Chaudary. We are sick of their politics and almost everyone I ask agree with me. This is why we need a new Fiji with a new slate of politicians who are inclusive and are not race or colourblinded. Most of us are with Bainimarama all the way to 2014 and a new election system for Fiji. No more of these kind of politician like Chaudary. I used to like him a lot but no more. His time is well past and his politics is gone. A new paradigm is needed in Fiji. Frank Bainimarama is right and I'm 100% with him all the way. We must never return to the old Fiji. We need the new Fiji to move forward. Thank you once again and be rest assured, I come to your blog everyday to freshen my mind.
Delusion of Grandeau said…
I concur with comments from TheMax yes! it is time to look forward to a new brand of politics and politicians who will be fearless in their service to the citizens of Fiji. We want to be role models to the rest of our Melanesian brothers. As an aside we must ensure that the style of politics practiced in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu & PNG is not entertained by Fiji. Roll on 2014 and I daresay that Frank & Aiyaz will stand by their committment to let the elections begin. I look forward to our first female prime minister.
Ian Simpson Taveuni said…
The only hope forward for us is a one party system that has been practiced by our neighbours and 5000 yr old cultures to the north of us, either by choice or not. This pragmatic system, with check and balances designed and put in place , for a period of say 20 years can be the only way forward for our situation.
Such a dialogue would be productive and could get us to elections by next year. The Peoples Charter would be the foundation of the parties constitution. There is no going back to a multi-party system for Fiji spells death to our nation....not at least until all the present and past political players pass away and good riddence to them all. A referendum in 20 years might be appropriate to consider a multi party system. This should be our refernce point for any dialogue regarding our political future.

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