Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bainimarama Dictatorship Sets Draconian Rules for Political Parties

by Sai Lealea
The people of Fiji must be ever wondering when will this long period of darkness in the governance of their nation end. Come a new year, yet they are still being ruled under a military dictatorship that has become drunk on power and insists on prolonging its unwelcome stay at the helm of government. It is now time to stand up to the dictatorship and rid it from the face of this earth once and for all.

Bainimarama Dictatorship in Fiji

New terms and conditions set for political parties have been dictated by the Bainimarama dictatorship without any consultation whatsoever with the people of Fiji, let alone other political parties or organisations.

The terms and conditions set out in the decree can only be labelled as discriminatory, punitive and draconian. It is no doubt aimed at making it tough for opposition parties and groups critical of the dictatorship to start and operate a political party.

Even names of parties are to be in English only! Why is this? This is a clear violation of the human and cultural rights of anyone and group to use their own language such as the SVT party in naming their party. Even union officials are being banned from starting a political party, no doubt aimed at union critics of the dictatorship.

The terms and conditions have been set in the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013 which restricts public officers including union executives from starting off a party and political party funding restrictions for all organizations including companies, unions and NGOs.

All new and existing political parties need to register as a party under the decree which commences from this Friday.

All parties must register and if they do not, then they commit an offence under the new decree. All the 16 existing political parties have been given 28 days to re-register from this Friday however they need to meet various terms and conditions set out in the decree.

The decree sets out the following discriminatory and draconian conditions.
  • The name of the proposed political party should be in the English language, 5 people have to make the application to register the party and they need 5,000 members to meet the criteria. Previously only 180 members were needed to form a political party. 
  • From the 5,000 members, the proposed party must have 2,000 members from the Central Division, 1,750 from the Western Division, 1,000 from the North and 250 from the Eastern Division.

  • The registration fees have been set at $5,005.
  • Political parties are required to keep records of its contributions and donations and register of members. They need to have their accounts audited and published.
  •  Only individuals can make donations to a political party and should not exceed $10,000 in a year.
  • The source of funds of a party shall only be from membership fees, voluntary contributions, donations and grants from a lawful source but not from a foreign government, inter governmental or non governmental organizations. This will also apply to independent candidates.
  • No company can make a donation to a political party.
This latest move by the Bainimarama dictatorship is bound to be questioned by all as being very punitive and draconian, yet well in keeping with the dictatorship's paranoia of losing power to the free choice and democratic mandate of the people of Fiji.
All these requirements are designed to keep the dictatorship in power while making it very difficult for their opponents to start and operate a political party. It is more than a backward step for Fiji and the people must once and for all stand up to the bullying tactics of the current dictatorship.

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