The FLP Submission to Come?
|FLP General Secretary|
Unfortunately, the leaders of the Fiji Labour Party do not belong to this group.
At their Annual Delegates Conference on Monday they stated their opposition to the dialogue process and signalled the likely contents of their submission to the Commission.
Briefly, they want the appointment of a caretaker government to "take charge of the process of restoring Fiji to democratic and constitutional rule". They claim the dialogue process is "being driven by the regime in a pre-determined direction to serve its own interests and agenda" and is non-inclusive and non-participatory. They object to provisions for immunity; the "absolute powers" of the Prime Minister; and the size and composition of the "Constituent Assembly" (That has still not been decided. Perhaps they meant Commission).
In other words, they don't like it; they don't trust it, and they are not going to go along with it.
Several delegates spoke in favour of retaining the 1997 Constitution with some amendments to the electoral system to be worked out by "an appropriately constituted forum similar to the aborted President’s Political Dialogue Forum of 2009."
One wonders whether the amendments will include the abolition of the race-defined communal electorates, making all electorates Open with candidates standing from the different races, and an insistence on one man one vote one value. Or whether they are happy to live with a patched-up system, a compromise with the SDL and UPP, as long as it is seems to be in their short-term interests.
Yet, unless there is a radical change to the electoral system, Fiji will revert to its old confrontational politics, the racial divide will widen, and the resultant instability could well herald yet another coup, this time less favourable to the Indo-Fijians who voted for the FLP.
Maybe the FLP should have been consulted about the composition of the Commission but they weren't and whatever they now say, the Commission does represent a fair range of views and it is definitely no push over. Criticise by all means but know where to stop. The derailment of the dialogue process is the worst thing that could happen to Fiji at this time. A reversal now could well herald a return to the far less tolerant days following the Abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in 2009.
For this, if for no other reason, leaders with foresight should be offering their full support to Prof Yash Ghai and the Constitution Commission to help make its recommendations so strong and so well accepted that no one, not even Bainimarama should he wish, would dare to oppose them.
I should refrain from pointing the finger at the FLP General Secretary but there's little doubt Mahendra Chaudhry's influence is there somewhere. In times like these, one continues to hope that people will put the needs of the nation ahead of their own personal or supposed party interests.
-- Crosbie Walsh.