Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Former Fiji PM Chaudhry concerned elections may be delayed

Radio Australia - June 9, 2010 

A former Prime Minister of Fiji fears the date for elections may be delayed beyond 2014.

Mahendra Chaudhry now leader of the Labour Party is challenging the Interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama's claims that the people are happy with the regime's policies and are asking him to delay the elections.

Mr Chaudhry says if that's true then Commodore Bainimarama should hold a referendum and ask the people when they want the elections.

Fiji's Interim Prime Minister has denied reports he was planning to delay elections beyond 2014.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told the Fiji Village website he is fully planning to hold the elections in 2014 as promised and reports of delays were completely false.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji Labour Leader

CHAUDHRY: Well just two days ago he made a statement that he had been approached by people he had met on his visit to delay the elections, that people are happy with his government and therefore they didn't want an election.

COUTTS:So you think that Commodore Bainimarama's comments should be held and tested. You want a referendum to ask the people themselves?

CHAUDHRY: Well whether people want elections or not the best way to find that out would be putting the issue to a national referendum. As far as I'm concerned I go around the country quite regularly, I meet with people that I represent and they're anxious to have elections as soon as possible, they want to get back to parliamentary rule and they want their freedom restored, because individual freedoms have been taken away under the emergency rule, freedom of association, freedom of speech, media censorship and all that and people are not happy with the situation. So they'd like to return to normal life as soon as possible and they're anxious that elections be held as soon as possible.

COUTTS: Mr Chaudhry have you or will you ask Commodore Bainimarama to hold that referendum?

CHAUDHRY: Well I've already made a public statement to that effect, I think that's good enough.

COUTTS: Well if you can predict Fiji's future if it keeps going under the current regime, what will that be, in terms of democracy and the path back to democracy under this current regime, what will that be?

CHAUDHRY: We need to return to parliamentary rule and we need to return to constitutional rule and we need to rebuild our economy. We need to cater for the needs of the people and we can't do it in isolation. So I think the best thing that can be done for the sake of Fiji, for the people is to have inclusive dialogue, agree on a roadmap back to democratic rule and have elections and bring normality back.

COUTTS: What do you make of the on again off again invitation by Fiji to have their contact group, the Forum Ministerial Contact group visit Fiji?

CHAUDHRY: Well I think we've seen that, it's been going on like that for a while, engage and then disengage. I don't think it's doing us any good, I think the best thing to do is to engage and have these matters sorted out so that we can agree on a roadmap back to elections and democratic rule.

COUTTS: What about the internal dialogue, the president's political forum, nothing much has been said about that recently?

CHAUDHRY: No, no, that's not being talked about at all actually, there was some talk about it earlier in the year, but nothing concrete has come out of it and we don't know whether it will ever take place.

COUTTS: Why do you think that's the case?

CHAUDHRY: Well because it was supposed to have got off the ground in February this year and then of course we're into June now.

COUTTS:Yeah but why do you think Commodore Bainimarama isn't conducting the internal dialogue, what's he got to lose?

CHAUDHRY: Well he has been resisting inclusive dialogue, I think that is the reason why we are not making any progress because their attempts of dialogue means that they will set the agenda and they will manage the dialogue. And of course initially it also said that political parties would be excluded from dialogue, that people come into it as individuals and not representing a political party or any grouping. You can't have that sort of dialogue to be meaningful in any way.

COUTTS: Mr Chaudhry you have been a former prime minister, you were actually the Minister for Finance in the Commodore Bainimarama cabinet. Would you be allowed and are you being included in the dialogue forum if it does go ahead?

CHAUDHRY: Well as it stood earlier on I would certainly be excluded because I am a politician, I represent a political party and under the rules they have set politicians and political parties are to be excluded.

COUTTS: Now as you've travelled around the country what specifically are the people that you talk to concerned about?

CHAUDHRY: They're concerned about the difficulties they face, as you know for the fourth straight year our economy has been contracting, there is rising unemployment, poverty levels have risen to a shocking 45 per cent of the population, it's been going up on account of devaluation of the Fiji dollar, which was done last year in April. Things have become very expensive, food items, daily household items and people are really, particularly those with ordinary incomes and those who are without employment who work casual work are finding it very difficult to carry on with their daily lives

Comments posted on

  • What Mahen Chaudary is saying here is what all of us have been saying for a long time and that is Bainimara will make sure that his illegal agenada under the pretext of Presidential dialogue will be done in such a way that it will put Bainimarama at an advantage in everyway Fiji turns politically in the next election if there will be an election which we the Democratic advocates doubt it will ever happen under Bainimarama illegal regime.
  • The exclusion of Politicians and any Political Party to the dialogue is a sure sign of this grand manipulation of its outcome by the Illegal Regime and the Military Council. The delaying tactics shows that the illegal regime has no idea whatsoever in what they are doing or what they want to do next. The only way to go under this i8llegal regime is for Bainimarama to hold on to power for as long as he possibly can and in the process bankrupt Fiji.
  • Mr Chaudhry is now trying to jump ship before it finally sinks. Let's not forget about his previous role in all of these. He should be taken to task along with everyone else who has benefited from overthrowing the Qarase govt. Hopefully more and more people will start speaking out now about what is really happening back home.

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