Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Concrete steps

letter to Fiji Daily Post - 23-Oct-2007 by Tui Savu.


BAINIMARAMA’S statements at the Pacific Leaders Forum in Tonga are highly commendable, but many remain sceptical based on his unpredictability.

The ultimate test of his leadership is when his officers willingly return to barracks, resign from civil service and diplomatic postings and swear allegiance to the newly elected government, especially when current indicators show Qarase and his SDL party returning to power.

Furthermore, his mettle will also be tested by the FLP, which objects to holding a 2009 General Election, as they are allegedly one of the major benefactors of the coup.

Since Bainimarama has made public his commitment to holding general elections in early 2009, he should now be seen to be taking concrete steps in preparaing for the same.

He should begin by disbanding the military council and making public an unconditional withdrawal of the council’s earlier statement that Qarase and SDL will not be allowed to participate in the 2009 General Election because if they did the military council would not rule out a further coup.

He should also stop forthwith any proposed change to any Act of Parliament, until Parliament reconvenes.

He should also refrain from amending the Constitution without Parliament pursuant to sections 190, 191 & 192 of the Constitution.

He should also disband the various task forces set up to recommend proposed changes to any Act of Parliament.

He should also disband the People’s Charter group because it does not have the majority of Fijian support and is an exercise in futility.

Bainimarama also has to tow into line his coup advisers and supporters.

It would be inconsistent of him to say on one hand he is committed to holding an election in early 2009 and will respect whichever elected government takes office, yet permit unconstitutional practices to continue, such as amending Acts of Parliament and the Constitution.

The challenges before Bainimarama are many but not insurmountable.

His commitment will be tested by those within the military leadership and his civilian coup advisers who supported his coup because they now feel vulnerable.

His willingness to now enter into dialogue with Qarase is a hopeful sign because it is the only real way forward for Fiji.

Qarase has made a commitment to come with an open mind, which is commendable, but both should enter into dialogue with willingness to compromise on certain issues for the national interest.

The sooner they begin constructive dialogue the sooner a political solution can be found for Fiji because without Qarase’s contribution, there can be no enduring, political solution for Fiji.

Bainimarama should not be deterred, but remain steadfast to his commitment because if he reneges on his promise, he will never regain credibility in the eyes of the regional and international community.

Tui Savu,

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