President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau yesterday warned MPs that if they failed to condemn assaults on democracy “it will cast doubts upon you.”
Ratu Epeli said: “It will cast doubts about whether you believe in and truly subscribe to the fundamental democratic principles upon which our modern nation state is founded upon.”
He made the remarks in his speech at the ceremonial opening of the 2015-2016 parliamentary year in Suva yesterday.
He said attempts to form a separate so-called Christian state “cannot be condoned under any circumstances.
“Such actions must be publicly condemned, in particular given our political history, in no uncertain terms,” he said.
He said they must be emphatically condemned by all those who truly adhered to and believed in the democratic principles upon which our Government, this Parliament and our new Fijian State was built upon.
None of the Opposition parties has come out to strongly and openly condemn the attempts to form a Christian state. Some Opposition MPs showed sympathy to those charged with sedition.
Ratu Epeli called on all MPs to support democracy and not give comfort to those who wished to subvert the democratic process.
“You have sworn the most solemn of oaths or affirmed your allegiance to protect and defend democracy and have a sacred and unbreakable trust with god and the Fijian people to uphold that oath or affirmation.
“As your Head of State – a figure above politics – I call on every Fijian to rally to the defence of the democratic process and the right of every Fijian to practise their rights.”
On unity, Ratu Epeli said: “Last year, I urged you all to think beyond your parochial interests of ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status or wherever you come from in Fiji. And to join hands to work together to move our beloved nation forward.”
“I also cautioned that if you did not, it would be to our ultimate peril as a nation-state. And I am deeply saddened that twelve months on, some appear more intent on promoting division than promoting national unity.
“It would appear they cannot relinquish the politics of the past, the politics of viewing everything from a communal and parochial perspective rather than as a Fijian leader who puts the country and people first.” Opposition parliamentarian Prem Singh described Ratu Epeli’s message on stability as “great”.
Source: Fiji Sun. Biman Prasad on Unity and Radio NZ's Misleading Heading
Leader of the NFP, Biman Prasad
Following the President's call for unity, the Leader of the NFP, Biman Prasad said the word Unity should be taken in the right context as there will always be disagreements between opposition and government members.
Prasad said he did not ridicule the call for Unity which was made by the President in parliament and his comments are based on the principles of Parliamentary democracy.
Radio NZ had headlined their story on Biman Prasad's comments this morning as Fiji's Prasad ridicules Unity call.
He had said that it is ridiculous to expect the opposition not to criticise the government of the day and that if you don't allow divisions within parliament, then you cannot call it a genuine democracy.