Monday, February 23, 2009

Samoan PM berates Voreqe

Sai Comment
- The Samaon PM is right on the mark on what he has to say about Voreqe and his illegitimate regime. They are a bunch of power hungry and unelectable lot whose only hope of holding on to power is through force and with guns and not by the power of their popular appeal to the citizens of Fiji. Freedom will only return when each one of them are returned to their former positions. Otherwise, all they have to do, is to have the courage to seek a propoer mandate from the people of Fiji to see if ever they command an ounce of support. They know the naked truth and that is why they will try to hang on to power as long as it takes to enrich themselves at the expense of the beloved people in Fiji.

Samoan PM berates Voreqe

By TUPUOLA TERRY TAVITA, Editor of Samoan newspaper, Savali - Monday, February 23, 2009

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in his office in Apia, Samoa
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is unsure of what state of mind Fiji dictator Frank Baini-marama was in when he made comments about Samoa, Samoa's relationship with New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Forum.

"I'm curious if he was sober or perhaps there was a full moon out that night," Tuilaepa speculates.

Asked what he thinks of Bainimarama's claims that Samoa, Australia and New Zealand are ganging up on Fiji at the Pacific Forum, Tuilaepa giggles: "No, no, no, I think the good commander was misquoted by the media. What he may actually have meant was that the maturity of Samoa's leadership is on par with that of New Zealand and Australia. That's obviously what he meant. Therefore, given that seniority, he should be keen to absorb my tit-for-tat."

But the situation in Fiji, the Prime Minister admits, is no laughing matter. Bainimarama (last week) railed against the Forum and the international community that no country would force Fiji to do what it didn't want.

"No one's going to force us what to do here," says Bainimarama. "We've al-ready decided what's going to happen."

Well, no one is forcing Fiji to do anything, says Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

"The Forum is simply asking what his (Baini-marama's) plans for Fiji‘s road back to democracy are, in accordance with the principles of democratic governance the Forum was established upon.

"May I remind the interim Prime Minister that Fiji is a founding member of the Pacific Islands Forum.

"One of the Forum's founding fathers was none other than Fiji‘s Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, a distinguished and respected leader whose principles of democratic government the Forum stood for in its formative years."

The Forum, the Prime Minister adds, continues to be misled by Fiji's representatives.

"During the Forum meeting in Nukualofa in 2007, Bainimarama told the Forum that general elections in Fiji will be held in March, 2009.

"Again, during the recent Leaders Summit in Port Moresby, his hand-picked Attorney-General, during his presentation to the leaders, provided a roadmap for elections, which led the Forum to set out in its communiqué the 1st of May timetable and elections in Fiji by the end of the year.

"That is the basis for the communiqué that was issued following the meeting. It was based on the Fiji Attorney-General's presentation to the Forum. Now Bainimarama and his Attorney-General are singing a different tune.

"I strongly believe that Bainimarama has no intention of relinquishing power and returning Fiji to democratic government.

"On the eve of the summit in Port Moresby, the leaders were told that Bainimarama made a statement to his troops that he needs five years in government.

"After the meeting, the leaders were told by sources in Fiji that Bainimarama has this time told his army generals in a meeting that he'll need up to ten years of military rule in Fiji.

"Therefore, that's a clear indication that Baini-marama has no intention whatsoever of holding general elections and returning his country to democratic rule."

The continuing travel bans imposed by New Zealand and Australia on those associated with the military regime, Baini-marama claims, "are counter-productive to a return to democracy".

Not so, says Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

"Only Bainimarama and his guns control the road to democracy in Fiji.

"Only Bainimarama controls Fiji's return to democratic rule, not the travel bans."

Tuilaepa believes Bainimarama has a problem comprehending the issues involved.

"Therefore I'll speak to him frankly from one Pacific islander to another Pacific islander in a very clear and direct language that I'm sure he will understand."

In a report by Radio Australia this week, Bainimarama claims that the Forum decision after Port Moresby is owed to an alliance of Australia, New Zealand and Samoa.

"I must also tell you that unfortunately for the Forum, maybe only three countries endorsed what came out and decided that outcome, and that was Australia, New Zealand and Samoa," Bainimarama is quoted as saying. "And Samoa for good reason – Samoa and New Zealand are one and the same."

Prime Minister Tuilaepa smiles: "Samoa is an independent country. If Baini-marama has something to say, say it to me. He has an awful lot to say for someone who surrounds himself with armed soldiers."

It has been reported by Islands Business magazine (February 2009 issue) that in the few months Mr Bainimarama appointed himself as Fiji ‘s Finance Minister, he quietly claimed for himself a "backpay" of FJ$200,000.

"That's public money", says Tuilaepa.

"And yet he has been telling everybody that he needs to clean up Fiji.

"I think it's a classic case of do as I say and not as I do."

As long as the military is in power, the Prime Minister says, the people of Fiji will be denied crucial assistance from donor countries, international institutions and lending agencies.

"The last time I looked," Prime Minister Tuilaepa said, "neither the United Nations nor the Common-wealth have a fund to prop up unelected dictators and coup-installed military regimes.

"Because that's exactly where any aid money will go in Fiji – to propping up Bainimarama and his cronies' military junta, not to the common people who need it the most.

"It's a clear indication of how green Bainimarama is. He doesn't understand these things."

Since Bainimarama wrested power from Fiji's elected government back in December 2006, the com-mander has put military personnel in top civilian government positions.

"That's what madmen who appoint themselves to office do. They appoint other madmen to positions of power."

On the reported gagging of the media and widespread suppression of "dissenting voices" against the military regime, the Prime Minister grimaces.

"It's a sign of inexperience. A sign of weakness. Every good government needs alternative views to discern its policies.

"You cannot surround yourself with yes-men and expect a yes-public to everything you do.

"You can't forcibly take over the reigns of government and expect people to just shut up. That's stupid.

"Those actions are reminiscent of Stalin, Musso-lini and Hitler. Well where are they now? And how are they remembered?"

But there is still hope for Bainimarama, the Prime Minister believes.

"He could be remembered as the greatest Prime Minister Fiji ever had if he dismantles the military today and holds fresh elections tomorrow. It's the greatest gift he could give the people of Fiji."

And what does Fiji need an army for anyway, the Prime Minister quizzes.

"Perhaps Bainimarama fears a combined canoe attack from Tuvalu and Kiribati, its closest neighbours. That must be it."

And adds: "This is a region known for friendly people and its pristine environment – a paradise on earth.

"Having a Prime Minister dressed up in army beret and full military garb is ridiculous."

The Prime Minister says that he has been told that Mr Bainimarama is part Samoan; that Mr Baini-marama has a Samoan grandmother.

"I'm tempted to go down to the Lands and Titles courts and look up his family genealogy in Samoa. Then I'll send for his family matai (chief) in Samoa and tell him to reprimand his long lost descendant in Fiji. To give him severe censure for being cheeky, being ill-disciplined and having no manners."

And what of Bainimara-ma's People's Charter?

"It's utter rubbish. He's trying to replace Fiji's Constitution with that People's claptrap, or whatever it is.

"The Constitution is the cornerstone of democratic government and democratic governance.

"You only get democratic government by holding free and fair elections and having citizens elect their leaders in Parliament. That's how the system of democratic government works."

Four military coups in 20 years sets a very bad precedent for the future of Fiji, the Prime Minister believes.

"It makes people think a military takeover is the most natural transition of power in Fiji. Since Rabuka's coup, coups have become very tempting, very enticing for those in (military) uniform.

"I'm sure there's a general in the Fiji army today just waiting on the wings, biding his time to grab power and establish his own military government."

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