Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Military 'cause of coups, not poll reforms' - 28/01/2009
The military has been the cause of coups in Fiji and not electoral reforms, says academic Dr Brij Lal. He emphasized that Pacific Island Forum leaders were not impressed with the electoral reform argument by Fiji.
Dr Lal said we may get the perfect electoral system in place, but unless there is a willingness to respect the rule of law, it will be difficult to have political stability in Fiji. He said in this context, along with a discussion on the electoral system, there should be a vigorous discussion on the role of the military, if any, in the political life of Fiji. “Fiji needs to get away from the, us-vs-them mentality.
There are many countries in the region that are genuinely keen to assist Fiji, want to find a way to break the impasse. But they are looking for some sign of movement on the part of the interim administration.”But he said, “Fiji is unlikely to heed the advice of the Forum Leaders. Just last week Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama talked about taking as long as he needs to make electoral reforms before the next elections”.
“Fiji may be able to ignore the Forum, but the international community is watching. The reaction of the United Nations and the Commonwealth Secretariat will be important. “And a lot rides on the EU's position, especially in regards to the future of the sugar industry.” He stressed Fiji must also realize they have been given breathing space by the Forum, and the right thing for government to do is to think of future directions.
“The effort by the interim administration to drive a wedge between Polynesian and Melanesian islands has failed. Fiji finds itself more isolated than ever before.” He said Fiji must also seriously consider the provision of automatic suspension if the Forum proposal is disregarded.

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