Friday, September 28, 2007

The Farcical Peoples Charter

Imagine this scenario and How do we NOT know this is behind this non-mandated Charter!

  • The People's Charter, which is currently formulated and Consultation being carried out now, will be used by the Interim Government to run the Government for the next 10 years.
  • The Commander will abrogate the Constitution once this Charter has been Degreed by the President then the President will be removed under Medical ground.
  • The Commander will then appoint himself as the Executive President of the Republic of the Fiji Islands for the next 10 years or until they feel like returning the Government to Democratic rule.

Supporters of the Fiji Interim Government in NZ who are close to the Fiji Labour Party are keenly promoting the People’s Charter.


Controversy still surrounds the adoption of a People's Charter for Change and Progress for Fiji.

The Charter, which has been accepted by the interim government, is supposedly to rebuild Fiji into a non-racial, culturally-vibrant and united, well-governed, truly democratic nation".

But historian Dr Brij Lal says the Charter could be just a way for Bainimarama to stay in power for another 10 to 15 years.

Dr Lal says there still needs to be a lot of consultation before the Charter is launched. (listen)

There's plans for the Charter to be launched on Fiji Day next week.

But sections of Fiji's community, including the Fiji Methodist Church, have already rejected the Charter.

Rev Ilaitia Tuwere, used to head the Methodist Church in Fiji and is now head of the Fijian Methodist Church here in New Zealand.

Tuwere says he sees major pitfalls in the Charter. (listen)

The way of the Charter

Verenaisi Raicola
Thursday, September 27, 2007

While some people have opposed the establishment of a National Council for Building a Better Fiji to chart the way forward, indications are the interim regime is set to launch it next month during Fiji Day celebrations.

The Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party representing the majority of Fijian voters, the Assemblies of Christian Churches another Fijian institution, as well as the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre are some of the organisations that have openly opposed the Charter.

Six provincial councils have also opposed the Charter.

And while the interim Government believes the Charter would rebuild Fiji into a non-racial, culturally vibrant and united, well governed, truly democratic nation that seeks progress and prosperity through merit based equality of opportunity and peace, an academic believes the two important institutions that represent Fijian interests should be included.

University of the South Pacific academic Dr Steven Ratuva said the Charter without doubt had noble intentions.

"However, there are two major difficulties firstly is the perception of the Charter by those who were at the receiving end of the coup," he said.

"How does one ensure that they develop a sympathetic stance towards the Charter and thus create a national consensus."

He said this gap has to be sorted out first because the ill feelings, the hurt and lack of trust are still there.

"Many people who agree with the Charter's noble intentions reject it simply because of their dislike of the interim Government," he said.

"Secondly is the question of efficacy and legitimacy."

He said while it was now imperative to have a process of national unity in place, some people were asking whether it would be wise to first of all have dialogue between the contending parties to make sure there was a sense of unity and oneness.

"The third issue is what happens when a newly elected government comes into power. Will they continue with the Charter or will they terminate it," he asked.

Dr Ratuva believes the SDL Party and the Methodist Church should be part of the Charter if it was to win legitimacy.

"That's why the implementation of the Charter should be preceded by dialogue as part of consensus and peace building," he said.

He said the fact that six provincial councils had opposed the Charter was in a way inevitable because of the different political and ideological positions.

"Some provinces opposed the proposed Charter simply because they were opposed to the IG while others took time to analyse the contents and the underlying intentions and made their decisions," said Dr Ratuva.

On whether the Charter would prevent further coups, Dr Ratuva said, "It's easy to stop the culture if there was only one type of coup because all we need to do is address the root causes and circumstances of the takeover.

"In Fiji's case, we've had three types 1987 was a military coup supported by nationalists, 2000 was by nationalists and 2006 was by the military against the nationalists.

"There are three different sets of circumstances if we just focus on one, then we ignore the others, that's why we have to be holistic and thorough in our approach," said Dr Ratuva.

Another academic and co-architect of the 1997 Constitution, Dr Brij Lal said the vision the Charter endorsed was unexceptionable.

"There can be no argument with the view that the vast majority of Fiji's people aspire for and deserve a country including a system of governance, characterised by stability, transparency and accountability as well as the prevalence of law, order and peace.

"Nor could one argue that Fiji needs to become a more progressive and a truly democratic nation, a country in which its leaders, at all levels, emphasise national unity, racial harmony and the social and economic advancement of all communities regardless of race or ethnic origin," he said.

Dr Lal said the spirit of the vision enunciated by the council was already part of the "compact" of the 1997 Constitution which specified broad principles for the governance of the country.

He said the real problem for Fiji was not the vision but the willingness of its leaders, both military and civilian to respect the rule of law.

Dr Lal questioned the mandate of civil society organisations that had proposed far reaching changes to the governance of Fiji. He said the absence of the Methodist Church with about 250,000 members from the council detracted from its credibility as a broad based group.

Dr Lal raised the question of whether an interim administration had the constitutional authority to promulgate policies of far reaching significance.

The largest women's organisation in Fiji the Soqosoqo Vakamarama said the background information contained in the Charter should provide a factual description of the economic, social and political status of the country.

Soqosoqo Vakamarama general secretary Adi Finau Tabakaucoro said the Charter contained a number of unsubstantiated comments reflecting valued judgment on the quality of past leadership and management of the country.

Adi Finau said the priority should really be in establishing confidence in respect of law and order, human rights, adherence to the Constitution and laws of the country.

She said the Charter portrayed a lot of doom and gloom based on too many perceptions and assumptions on the two major races since independence in 1970.

Adi Finau said the majority of voters were ethnic Fijians and their approval of the Charter was imperative.

"We suggest that the members of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji should include provincial councils, chiefs and community leaders.

Another women's organisation, the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre has declined to participate in the Charter because they feel the regime did not represent the people.

The centre's co-ordinator Shamima Ali said the regime was capable of doing anything despite what people thought.

"We did not make any submissions regarding the Charter because we are waiting for the ruling by the courts regarding the legality or illegality of this government," she said.

"What's the use of making submissions anyway when this government just does whatever it wants regardless of considering the wishes of ordinary citizens of this country." Ms Ali said this was not a Charter for the people and should be called the "regime's Charter".

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