Monday, June 13, 2011

Bainimarama Needs Exit Strategy, says Fiji Academic as Fiji pro-democracy Movement Gathers Momentum

Posted on Raw Fiji News - 13 June 2011

Dr Steve Ratuva
Interview – By Alex Perrottet
As Fiji's military regime comes under increasing international pressure, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is still promising elections in 2014.
While many agree the military ruler has a positive vision for a multi-racial Fiji, most believe he has gone about his reforms in the wrong way.
While time is ticking away, there is little evidence of public consultation on what shape the new democracy might take. And with his strong-fisted approach, Bainimarama may not have too many friends by 2014 when he is due to hand the regime over to the people.
Dr Steven Ratuva, senior lecturer in Pacific studies at the University of Auckland, and an expert on the Fiji military, regime change and electoral systems, gives his views on the future in an interview with the Pacific Media Centre:

RATUVA: When you try to recreate, if you like, a new state system you need people's support in order to be able to provide the thinking, to provide the sentiments to participate in the process, to make sure it becomes legitimate. But what he is doing is imposing it and using coercion as a means by which to achieve what he wants to do and by doing that he steps on a lot of people's toes.

PERROTTET: For years now Commodore Bainimarama has said he is changing Fiji for the better, but time is running out on his 2014 election deadline. Sources from within Fiji say he is alienating the very people that could be helping him build that democracy. Steven, where do you think he has gone wrong?

RATUVA: Instead of co-opting them, he is basically crushing them. In politics you don't crush someone and get away with it. They will come back at you at some point.

At loggerheads
 
PERROTTET: What about the chiefs? After the coup, he dissolved the Great Council of Chiefs. Does he have any of them onside?

RATUVA: He is very much at loggerheads with his own chiefs. They don't like him and he doesn't like them. They may have the chiefly mana but he has the guns.

PERROTTET: WE have recently seen former senior army officers such as Pita Driti and Ratu Tevita Mara sidelined for alleged sedition. How does he keep the support of the army while he has control of the Parliament?

RATUVA: In terms of the rank and file, he basically has control over them, because these are the guys with guns. He gives them pay rises, gives them lots of things in terms of their welfare, so ordinary soldiers really like him for doing all those things. Although they disagree with him politically, in terms of bread and butter issues, they say: 'Well, this guy is feeding us'. So he plays that game pretty well.

PERROTTET: So there's no chance of a mutiny from within the army?

RATUVA:  The two guys who are most likely to do it are now sidelined. He has his own men in the system, in the country, observing and spying on the others and getting feedback. So even the senior officers are scared to talk to other senior officers, like: 'What do you think of this idiot?' Because you are not sure who you trust. There is a lot of distrust among them and a lot of suspicion as well.

PERROTTET: So are elections going to happen at all? What do you think?

RATUVA: Well, that is an assumption. Hopefully they will.

Court cases
 
PERROTTET: Say they do hold elections in 2014, what then happens to Bainimarama?

RATUVA: He's thinking of his exit strategy, what does he do afterwards if the election takes place? If he loses the election, he'll be in big trouble. And then if he wins the election, he has to make sure that he has somebody in the military who won't do to him what he did to the previous prime minister.

PERROTTET: So win or lose those elections, do you think he will be pursued legally by the system he puts in place?

RATUVA: I'm absolutely certain that after the election, even if he wins, there will be lots of court cases against him in relation to sedition charges and treason. So he needs a very good lawyer.

Alex Perrottet is contributing editor of the Pacific Media Centre's Pacific Media Watch project. This is the transcript from his audio report featured on the PMC's YouTube channel
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Fiji pro-democracy movement gathers momentum

Suliasi Daunitutu (left)
ELEANOR HALL: Fijian political activists based in Australia say momentum is building towards their long awaited goal of seeing a return to democracy in Fiji.
The defection of a former ally of the Fijian dictator, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is being seized upon by democracy campaigners as a turning point, as Adrienne Francis reports.
(Singing Fijians)
VULA YEE: It is sad because that beautiful anthem can only be sung on a foreign land, not in Fiji.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Vula Yee can't remember the last time she sang her national anthem in a group.
The Melbourne nurse and her family fled Fiji after the coup of 1989.
Vula Yee was among more than 100 Fijians who travelled to the New South Wales city of Queanbeyan for a democracy rally.
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: It is a from down up approach, from the people upwards approach.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Suliasi Daunitutu is the interim president of the Fiji Democracy Freedom Movement, based in Australia. The members have collaborated with academics from the Australian National University to create a plan to restore democracy to Fiji.
They're calling for re-instatement of the 1997 constitution and the judicial system. They also want the Great Council of Chiefs re-instated.
Mr Daunitutu says they are hoping to dislodge Commodore Frank Bainimarama peacefully.
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: We tried to not use words that will aggravate the situation, to stop him from coming to dialogue. Words like arrest and all those words you know.
These are words that I think that have been used so many times through the four and a half years, it hasn't helped in any way. It has just aggravated the situation and made people drift away from the leadership.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Pro-democracy campaigners have secured the backing of a former ally of the Fijian regime.
Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara is the youngest son of the first prime minister of Fiji. He was a key supporter of Commodore Bainimarama, when Bainimarama staged his coup in 2006 and took over the country. However, there's been a falling out between them.
Bainimarama charged Tevita Mara with sedition, and the Fijian regime were seeking his extradition from Tonga. But Mr Mara is visiting Australia meeting with the pro-democracy movement.
Tevita Mara how can you expect to be taken seriously when you were so intimately involved in the Fiji coup?
TEVITA MARA: Well that's one aspect which I think can be to my advantage, that I was part of the group that participated. I was part of the military that took over government. I have been discharged from the military. It is my word. I think I have the backing of a lot of people back home to speak out the truth on what's happening back home.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Can his words here today be believed?
VULA YEE: Yes I do believe that he has changed. He has publicly told the people that what he did was wrong. I believe in my heart, this is the turning point for him and for all of us.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Vula Yee's assessment of Tevita Mara is mirrored by other members of the democracy movement.
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: He is a very big part of this transitional plan but this is as they say a game changer. A person right in the middle of the regime has defected and we can use him to our full advantage. So we could change a lot of things.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Suliasi Daunitutu is preparing to take the Fiji democracy paper to the annual Pacific Island Forum, which will be held in New Zealand in September.
ELEANOR HALL: Adrienne Francis reporting.

Adrienne Francis reported this story on

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 Aziz's Corruption Condoned by Dictator Bainimarama

Aziz Mohammed 
One of Frank Bainimarama's coup co-conspirator, Aziz Mohammed, is barely hanging on the thread of survival.
Sources who work with him say the guy is like a changed man over-night after he was warned by his boss Frank that he is the next to go if he doesn't tow the line.
Aziz, who is Frank's Chief of Staff, was riding high on his over-night usurped power after the coup and he channeled it into various private business dealing exposed by bloggers over the years.
He even orchestrated the burning of his own home in Duncan Road, an old derelict structure, and personally approached his insurance company demanding them to pay up his replacement cost to rebuild the property.
He received his insurance money alright but the property never got re-built.
His involvement with contractors doing works for the various companies he was a board member of raised many eyebrows and a lot has been revealed by the contractors themselves through blogs about Aziz Mohammed's under the table dealings.
Now with his tail between his legs after he was exposed as the guy who dobbed his mates in, Pita Driti and Ului Mara, he knows that it is only a matter of time when more scathing reports about his corruption will surface.
Driti and Ului have a big bone to pick with Aziz and will go out of their way to get him and his boss down with them.
So far, Frank Bainimarama is condoning Aziz, but for how long?
More expose' on Aziz Mohammed's dealings coming soon!
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Great advice from Fiji pro-democracy advocate : Mark Manning

Ardent Fiji pro-democracy  fighter, Mark Manning, his wife Nanise (next to him) and his Fijian family
By Mark Manning
I refuse to allow anyone to suggest that the Democracy Movement is behind Ratu Ului Mara or anybody else.
I'm not following anybody nor am I behind anyone, I have my own mind.
Maybe I'm being anal, but I don't believe it is an accurate description (that democracy movement is behind Mara).
Ratu Ului Mara's input is appreciated for sure, and it's not for me to Judge him !
As he so rightly pointed out, the Courts and the people of Fiji will do that, but let's not all get caught up in the Majesty of the thing please, otherwise nothing will change in Fiji.
Let's be frank and call a spade a spade or nothing will change.
Ratu Ului Mara is making a  contribution, but the Democracy Movement is not behind him per se.
If anything, we are all in this together, perhaps that is a better way to describe it !
We've all worked too hard to get the FDFM to where it is today to have it hijacked by someone who was happy to walk all over Democracy not so long ago, while denying fellow Citizens their Basic Human Rights.
I make no apology for my strong language.
The Truth hurts sometimes and I'm sure that Ratu Ului Mara is discovering that right now.
I think it's time for a wake up call for Fijians and that they need to get off their high horses and get real and wake up to a new age and adopt a Modern Fiji and stop slipping into the habits of the opast.
Ask the so called " Fiji Youth " whatever that means, what they think !
Does anyone know what the under 30′s in Fiji think, do they have a voice or does Tradition dictate that they must do whatever their Chiefs tell them ?
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