Friday, September 28, 2007

Army campaign backfired, says SDL

Last updated 9/27/2007
The military’s campaign against the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party during the 2006 General Election backfired because more than 80 per cent of soldiers voted for the SDL.
Such was the response of the SDL to the report by the three-member commission of inquiry into the 2006 General Election.
In his response, SDL national director Peceli Kinivuwai said they were concerned about the commission of inquiry’s brief comment on the military’s active and illegal involvement in the elections.
“Under our Constitution, the military has no role in politics. And yet the military actually campaigned against the SDL party and by doing so the military gave distinct advantage to the Fiji Labour Party and the National Alliance Party,” he said.
Since independence, he said, the military never took an active role in the elections until 2006.
“A bad precedent has been created and efforts should be made to ensure that such activity is not repeated,” he said.
The report of the commission of inquiry stated that throughout the SDL era, the military became increasingly at odds with the ruling party’s programme and was particularly concerned about the ultra-nationalist implications of several of the SDL’s major legislative programmes.
These concerns increasingly drew the military into the political field of party politics and elections.
During the election campaign, the report states, the military was directly campaigning against the ruling party by encouraging people to vote on the basis of substantive policies not race identity.
“This report states strongly that as long as there are no extraordinary circumstances the role of the military does not include mounting a political campaign for or against any political party.”

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