Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chief's Call for Reconciliation

August 27, 2007
A PARAMOUNT chief's call for national reconciliation in a newspaper advertisement has been welcomed by several civil leaders although the military labelled it as "inciteful".
Commander Land Force Colonel Pita Driti said Naitasiri paramount chief, the Turaga na Qaranivalu, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata's full page advertisement in The Sunday Times yesterday which outlined suggestions for amnesty and immunity from prosecution in the December 5 takeover was tantamount to incitement.
In the advertisement, Ratu Inoke warned hatred would be institutionalised in the absence of genuine reconciliation.
"Nothing this regime undertakes will ever be legal and the regime can not force its will upon the people," he said.
He said the methods used to achieve some of the interim regime's objectives were illegal and unacceptable. Ratu Inoke said the objectives outlined for and by the interim Government should be the priority of a newly-elected Government.
But Colonel Driti said Ratu Inoke should change his views if he wanted to discuss the issues he highlighted with the military.
Ratu Inoke recently had his conviction and jail sentence for mutiny-related charges quashed this year.
A retrial was ordered by the High Court.
Army chief of staff Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga said the military would only seriously consider his call when he was cleared by the courts. "He is not free. He is not credible," he said.
"Anybody can put out such a paid advertisement if they have the money and if the newspaper can publish it.
"As far as the RFMF is concerned, he (Ratu Inoke) is still an accused until proven otherwise by the court.
"We don't know if his comments were personal or if it was backed by his followers," Colonel Tikoitoga said.
He reiterated earlier calls by Colonel Driti that there were demagogues whom the military kept its eye on.
"Quite a few of them (demagogues) are working on the ignorance of the indigenous Fijians. They play on emotions. But the RFMF is prepared to meet that," Colonel Tikoitoga said.
Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the advertisement should have been the last resort and Ratu Inoke should have gone straight to the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama with such issues.
Deposed Opposition leader Mick Beddoes supported Ratu Inoke's suggestions, saying there was "very little to dispute about our situation as he describes".
"Unless we, as a people, acquire the good sense to recognise this and take steps to alter our course, we can't avoid the perils that await us," he said.
Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said everyone had a right to want to take the country forward but this should be done in a positive fashion that was non-violent and peaceful in nature.
"Ratu Inoke's suggestion should be welcomed by the interim Government," she said. Great Council of Chiefs chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini supported the call, saying society had developed a bred of self-righteous, stubborn people who had forgot to revere and respect God.
"There is wisdom in Ratu Inoke's words and his intentions and noble and good. Who are we to turn away an apology when one is made as such? Our role as humans, as God's children is to accept the apology and move on, in the same way God does us for our transgressions," he said.
National Federation Party leader Parmod Rae said Ratu Inoke's ideas were not made by "just an ordinary man" and that it provided a sound analysis of what Fiji was going through.

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