Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Forum a worthy initiative: Dr Brij Lal

Forum a worthy initiative: Academic
www.fijitimes.com - Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The political dialogue forum is a worthy initiative, but we should wait before passing a judgment either way, says the architect of the 1997 Constitution Dr Brij Lal.
He says the country has seen too many false dawns and false prophets before, so caution is necessary.
Everyone, including especially the interim administration, should approach the talks with an open mind, a flexible agenda and an appropriate sense of humility," Dr Lal said.
He said the interim Government needed to recognise and live with the truth that the only 'mandate' they had was through the power of the gun.
"It can't be 'My Way or the Highway'," said Dr Lal.
He said time was of essence.
"The longer the resolution of the impasse continues, the more the country suffers.
"So those in charge should approach the task at hand with a sense of utmost urgency," Dr Lal said.
He said people should understand the forum was not the place to have a discussion of substantive issues as its principal task was essentially procedural.
Dr Lal said the forums purpose was to define the task and the parameters of a future President's Political Dialogue Forum.
"That is where the People's Charter and proposed reforms to the electoral system and other issues will be discussed," he said.
Dr Lal said the composition of the President's political dialogue forum would be defined.
"Its terms of reference will have to be negotiated and, equally important, a firm deadline for returning the country to parliamentary democracy should be stated," he said.
Dr Lal said there could be no getting around the fact that Fiji would one day return to parliamentary democracy.
"The only question is when, not if."
He said the international community would come in and should come in, only if they saw a genuine effort to find solutions to the country's problems in an inclusive rather than a unilateral way.
"They will be cautious because they, too, have seen promises made and broken. They are wary of being taken for a ride again," he said.
Dr Lal said the dialogue was but the first step in a long and difficult journey ahead.
"But, as the saying goes, the longest journey in life begins with the single first step," he said.

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