Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I doubt regime wants elections: Qarase

Fiji PM urged to reveal ministers’ wealth

05 FEB

Fiji National Federation Party leader Pramod Rae has challenged the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to disclose publicly the wealth of each interim Cabinet minister.

Rae at the public forum at Holiday Inn, Suva today again highlighted the allegation of tax evasion made against one of the interim ministers

He said that none of the ministers from the interim regime has yet come forward and denied the allegation.

“This leadership will have to do better if it preaches true democracy, transparency, accountability,” he said.

“Nobody seems to want to touch it, nobody wants to give any kind of explanations and the issue just doesn’t seem to go away.

“Let him get full disclosures of personal wealth of each member of the interim regime and let the public judge.”

On the People’s Charter promoted by the interim Government, Rae said the only charter they know is the 1997 Constitution.

“The way forward is not with a charter process driven by a foreign consultant,” he said.

Rae said there should be full and unconditional participation of all political groups in moving forward.

Numerous attempts to contact Bainimarama proved futile.

Earlier this week, Bainimarama said in a statement that Rae has nothing useful to offer to the people of Fiji with his persistent negative and cynical comments.

Commodore Bainimarama adds that people like Rae “are ‘sour grapes’ and will always make cheap political comments to seek public sympathy and support”.

Elections Can Take Place in March 2009-Forum


The general view at the Elections Public Forum organized by the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre and the Pacific Centre for Public Integrity is that elections can take place in March 2009.

Ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said there are some positive signs already in place that point toward this direction.

Ousted Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes said there is no doubt that the elections can be held in March 2009.

Beddoes speaking outside the Holiday Inn said all preparations should start now but all stakeholders should take part in positive political dialogue.

General Secretary of the National Federation Party, Pramod Rae said the interim government should honor its commitment to hold elections as promised next year.

Bomb scare disrupts Qarase conference
05 FEB 2008
A public forum discussing whether it was feasible to hold Fiji’s elections in 2009 and which had deposed Prime Minister Lasenia Qarase as a speaker ended abruptly today at the Holiday Inn in Suva after a bomb threat was received.

At least 100 people were attending the public forum organized by the Pacific Centre for Public Integrity (PCPI) and Pacific Concerns Resource Centre.

This was the second bomb threat received at the Holiday Inn over two days.

The forum which was due to be completed in another half an hour when the threat was received had speakers from the former ruling party, the Sososoqo Duvavata ni Lewenivanua Party (SDL) as well as the National Federation Party (Pramod Rae), the United People’s Party (Mick Beddoes) and Samesa Karavaki, the former Supervisor of Elections.

The speakers discussed issues on whether it was politically and administratively feasible to hold elections in 2009 and what would the political ramifications be if national elections are delayed.

The second session which started an hour late was to discuss the economic and social issue before it was abruptly ended. It included speakers such as Dr Biman Chand from the University of the South Pacific, Desmond Whiteside from the Fiji Manufacturers Association and Virisila Buadromo from the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.

PCPI director Angie Heffernan says she was not certain at this stage whether the forum would be held another day.

05 FEB 2008
Ousted Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase today told a public forum he doubts the interim Government has the “political will” and “commitment” to hold elections next year.

With only months away from the planned March, 2009 elections, Qarase believes the election is “administratively possible”.

He said the interim Government’s proposed People’s Charter, to be formulated this year, “is divisive” and should not be seen as an alternative to existing laws and the Constitution.

He said the appointment of the head of Fiji’s Catholic Church, Archbishop Petero Mataca, in the National Council to Build a Better Fiji is causing divisions in the church.

National Federation Party general secretary Pramod Rae agrees with Qarase’s comments.

The two political leaders joined Acting Leader of the United People’s Party Mick Beddoes and the former Supervisor of Elections Semesa Karavaki as guest speakers on the topic “Elections 2009 – What it will mean for Fiji?”

Fiji police presence are visible at the Holiday Inn, the venue of the forum, after Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni had expressed concerns that anti-interim Government sentiments may be made at the meeting.

The organizers of the event, Pacific Centre for Public Integrity and Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, had invited 300 people to the forum.

History made in Fiji court appointments
05 FEB 2008
Two female judges and a Fijian judge were named in the bench of Fiji’s Court of Appeal today in a first for Fiji.

The first session of Fiji’s Court of Appeal for this year began this morning in Suva following the resignation of the entire panel late last year.

Their replacements today are members of the Fiji High Court, including Justice Jocelyn Scutt from Australia, who was admitted to the court late last year.

The new panel include: Justices Nazhat Shameem, Jocelyn Scutt, John Byrnes, Daniel Gounder, Davendra Pathik and Isikeli Mataitoga, a former diplomat and CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Mataitoga was the first ever indigenous Fijian in the Court of Appeal.

While speaking at the session this morning, Sayed-Khaiyum gave his assurance to the bench that the interim Government “will respect your order” and “we won’t attack you”.

“What we want is that you do your duty according to law,” he said.

Former High Court judge Roger Coventry, who was the only member of the High Court to sit as a regular member of Fiji Appeals Court, expressed concerns on certain aspects of the judiciary at his farewell party last month.

He said that the resignation of the entire panel of the Appeals Court last year left behind “an unsatisfactory state of affairs”.

“The knowledge that there is a respected and experienced Court of Appeal available to put right any errors is most reassuring,’ he said.

Comments are being sought from the new Appeals Court judges.

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