An Australian academic has called for sanctions on Fiji’s coup installed military regime to be dropped immediately.
Dr Karl Claxton, a research analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says it’s a risk that’s worth taking if it helps return Fiji to democracy.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Dr Karl Claxton, research analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
CLAXTON: There’s been quite a bit of commentary to suggest that we need to keep the pressure on the regime and that we need to avoid getting egg on our face by being taken for ride essentially. I can see where that caution comes from. A lot of people have been burned over the years, but I believe that Fiji stands at a crossroads now. We were talking with Fiji and international business people last week and they say that there’s investor interest in the kind of investment Fiji needs to move its economy ahead, but they’re hanging back. They need stability and they need elections. So on one side there’s some promise, but on the otherhand, there’s a real danger that Fiji will totally squander the legacy that it has and that it’s been continuing along, it’s still got some low economic growth and things still work in Fiji, but I really think this is sort of last chance. They need to have elections soon, so I think rather than worrying about getting egg on our face, we should end sanctions now. The sanctions have been the least bad option up to now and our risk policy prescription as been first do not harm. But I think the time to move forward boldly has come.
HILL: But if Australia drops those sanctions now before the elections, does Australia have any leverage over the regime about the conduct of those elections?
CLAXTON: Well, that’s the thing Bruce. As Graeme Dobell said on your show the other day, the sanctions have in effect been let go, only one request for a waiver has been refused and that was on technical grounds. So the sanctions give us very little leverage. They’ve been useful symbolically, they have helped delegitimise the regime, but now it’s time to reverse the symbolism and the symbolism now needs to be that we, Australia, are keen to move forward with Fiji. There’s mutual distrust and hostility and real resentment on both sides.
Julie Bishop made a breakthrough a couple of weeks ago, but a one hour successful meeting is just the start of things and I genuinely believe the best way to move forward now is to be bold and to try and reset the relationship. This may not work, but if it doesn’t work, the current sanctions are giving us no leverage and we’ll need to think of what to do following the election. But at the moment, I think non-conditionality. not imposing conditions on moving forward and avoiding threats is absolutely crucial on both sides. We need to bold, we need to afford ‘in good faith’, and that gives the highest likelihood that we’ll have elections, that the election results will be adhered to and that whoever wins the election and we don’t know whose going to win the election. There’s been no democracy for seven-and-a-half years and anyone could win. It’s important that whoever does win governs for all Fijians and there are some nasty scenarios you can think of. The best way to get ourselves some leverage in that and to do the right thing and to be on the side of the angels now is to move forward, to take the Prime Minister Bainimarama at his word and hold him to account for his word.
Publish date/time: 12/03/2014
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama will soon begin the process of gaining five thousand signatures to register his political movement.
Commodore Bainimarama made the comments while opening a new telecentre at the Sila Central High School today.
He reiterated that he needs to register the political movement he is forming to contest the general elections.
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“At the election you will have a clear choice between my vision of a better future in the new Fiji we are building together or a return to the Fiji of old. The future versus the past. It has become very clear in recent days that some people want to drag us all back to the past.
To reinstate the privileged elites in Fiji and take back the power, I was determined to give to ordinary people. It is too late. Ordinary Fijians can see both the logic and the justice of everyone getting an equal and fair share.
Ordinary Fijians are smarter than that. They saw clearly what happened in the past even if they did not feel free to speak out.
They saw some elites abusing the process and enriching themselves. Giving back the power to the elites isn’t going to happen.
People want their leaders to command respect because they have earned it. Because of the mana that comes with their high standards of personal conduct, their morality and their care and love for their people.”
Story by: Watisoni Butabua
Fiji’s Sodelpa party urges young people to register for elections
Updated at 4:29 pm today
A political party in Fiji plans to start transporting young people to voter registration centres to boost youth enrolment for the elections.
The president of Sodelpa’s Youth Council, Pita Waqavonovono, says it’s discovered many young people have not yet registered to vote in the polls promised by September this year.
He says more than sixty percent of the population is estimated to be in the 18 to 35 age bracket so the young vote is important for those contesting the polls.
But Mr Waqavonovono says many don’t have the means to get to the town-based registration centres.
“We’ve decided to actually start paying for young people to make their way down to town so we’re paying for buses to pick up young people and actually get them registered. This is the route that we now have to follow because we know for sure that this particular regime is unpopular among young people. I mean they’ve supressed the youth of this nation so many times.”
Pita Waqavonovono says Sodelpa’s also urging the Elections Office to go house to house to get people registered.
There are six registration offices around Fiji and 545,000 voters have registered so far.
In an interview yesterday, Qarase said he was pleased with Ro Teimumu’s appointment.
“I think she is the right choice at the right time and I have no doubts that she has all the abilities necessary to lead the party into the general election and I have not doubt that she will have tremendous support from the provinces as well as other communities,” Qarase said.
He said he was certain Ro Teimumu would take the party to victory at the proposed election this year.
He said as a leader, she would face a lot of challenges.
“She will face all the challenges a national leader in the position of the prime minister will face and there are so many.
“It’s difficult to single them out but she will have a very strong line-up of candidates in the next election who will give her support in all areas.
“So, all she will need to do is hold the team together and as I said she will be a very good team leader,” the former SDL leader said.
Qarase added he was looking forward to a government formed by SODELPA alone or in association with other parties.
Nasik Swami Wednesday, March 12, 2014
THE National Federation Party is preparing for its AGM in a bid to streamline its stand.
Party president Raman Pratap Singh confirmed the AGM would be held at Nadi Sangam School on March 29.
He said the AGM was necessary under the party’s constitution to pass major decisions and appointments.
“Over 500 people including members from all over Fiji are expected to attend the meeting,” he said.
He said the party’s manifesto would also be unveiled at the meeting.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
LABOUR leader Mahendra Chaudhry believes Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is shaken by the people’s coalition shaping up against him in the lead-up to the proposed 2014 elections.
Mr Chaudhry’s comments follow Commodore Bainimarama’s response to the maiden speech by SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa.
He said Commodore Bainimarama called the alliance a “coalition of hypocrites”, forgetting that he in fact held the record for a leader who had failed to deliver on every promise he has made to the people of Fiji.
“The ‘tired old political faces’ that he refers to are, in fact, the elected representatives of the people,” Mr Chaudhry said.
He said SODELPA and FLP had the mandate of the people of Fiji.
“The proof of this is the result of 2006 general elections. Commodore Bainimarama denigrates the Labour leader but FLP has in two general elections won the mandate of the people to lead the nation, and overwhelmingly so under Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry in the 1999 general elections.”
Mr Chaudhry said Commodore Bainimarama should show respect for the wishes of the people of Fiji.
“Indeed he should be the last person to accuse anyone of being racist and corrupt.
“People living in glass houses, should not throw stones. Fiji will, for the first time in its history, see a true getting-together of people of all races to restore democracy.”
Like his announcement that Mosese Tikoitoga will be the new army chief, Frank Bainimarama has again taken to the airwaves to announce that the next Police Commissioner will be a South African. Is it General John George Fivaz, who was South African Police Commissioner from 1995 to 2000. He was appointed by the late president Nelson Mandela. Fivaz joined the police force in 1964 and holds a BAdmin degree, which he obtained from the University of the Orange Free State in 1976. In 2000 he stepped down to make way for a first black police commissioner. Fivaz has been running a private investigation firm.
The locals for the job were Ravi Narayan, Rusiate Tudravu and Mohammed Aziz. Sources at Police Headquarters say Aziz was dropped after his appointment had been leaked out. So locals fit only to police the streets of Fiji?