Fiji military warns about campaigning

Updated at 3:54 pm today

The commander of the Fiji military has told political parties campaigning for next month’s election to refrain from promoting discriminatory policies.

Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga says otherwise the military will have difficulty in balancing its role.

He says under the constitution, the military has to ensure at all times the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians.

Brigadier General Tikoitoga has told the Fiji Sun in all the places where the Fiji forces serve as peacekeepers, the problems started with some sort of discrimination.

He also says the military will accept the outcome of next month’s election.

Brigadier General Tikoitoga says the military won’t favour any individual or political party and he has reminded those soldiers who had not read the constitution to familiarise themselves with the document.

The commitment is in contrast to his predecessor, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama, who removed the last elected government half a year after the polls.

During the counting process in 2006, he said he hoped the two newly elected independent MPs would side with the Fiji Labour Party to give the country stability.

However, the SDL Party of Laisenia Qarase emerged as winner and was then ousted in a military coup – Fiji’s fourth in two decades.

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Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

SODELPA: Land Is ‘NOT’ Safe …..a simple majority in parliament could result in loss of lands.

SODELPA: Land Is ‘NOT’ Safe

Pio Tabaiwalu

SODELPA, general secretary
This is in response to Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s statement in the Fiji Sun (Friday 6 June), saying once again that iTaukei land is safe – Part 1

To the iTaukei, land is not just an economic commodity. It is part of culture, kinship and group identity. That is why the iTaukei cling so fiercely to their land ownership. The 2013 Constitution does not reflect this indigenous attachment to their land.
Their claim that Fijian land has greater protection than before is a lie. Its protection has been weakened. In fact there was no reference at all to native land in the first draft of the Constitution.
It was left out completely. This caused great fear and uncertainty among landowners. It was only when supporters of SODELPA began to speak out that Bainimarama-Sayed Khaiyum decided to include specific reference to native land in their constitution. Without the SODELPA protests they would likely have enacted their supreme law with no special reference to native land.
SODELPA’s view that Bainimarama-Sayed Khaiyum have seriously weakened native land ownership is shared by others, including legal analysts. Lawyers for the Citizens Constitutional Forum concluded there is no real protection for Fijian landowners in the 2013 Constitution. This view was also shared by Professor Yash Ghai.
In previous constitutions there were special entrenched provisions, providing extremely strong safeguards for Fijian land ownership and ownership by the Banaban and Rotuman communities.
The 1997 Constitution laid down a very detailed and entrenched procedure for altering the following: Fijian Affairs Act, Fijian Development Fund Act, Native Lands Act, Rotuma Act, Rotuma Lands Act, Banaban Lands Act, Banaban Settlement Act and the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act.
To change these land laws required a two thirds vote in Parliament and a nine votes of the GCC nominees in the Senate. This was to provide extra safeguard in protecting these laws.
Sayed-Khaiyum and Bainimarama have scrapped this provision which means there just a need to have a simple majority in Parliament to change land laws. This is the crux of the issue which Sayed-Khaiyum is avoiding.
He is lying deliberately to the indigenous people by skirting around this missing “entrenched legislation” as contained in the 1997 Constitution.
The people’s draft constitution by the Yash Ghai Commission, that was scrapped by the Bainimarama-Sayed-Khaiyum regime, also included a listing of protected laws: iTaukei Lands Act (Cap 133), iTaukei Land Trust Act (Cap 134), Rotuma Lands Act (Cap 138), Banaban Lands Act (Cap 124) and Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (Cap 270).
All these safeguards were thrown out by Bainimarama-Sayed-Khaiyum.
Why? There has never been a proper explanation.
Instead they simply placed Fijian land ownership among a long list of provisions in the Bill of Rights.
However section 6 of the Bill of Rights (5) (a) (b) (c) permits rights to be limited and therefore changed. At least 55 of the rights listed can be subject to limitations.
Clause (c) of section 6 is particularly broad in its application. It allows parliament to pass “necessary” laws limiting rights and freedoms. This could obviously be applied to Fijian land. In our view there would be nothing to stop enactment of a change to Fijian land ownership provisions by a simple majority in Parliament.
Any such changes could further weaken or undermine Fijian land ownership. Even provisions relating to compulsory acquisition of property might be changed by a new law.
We note that the 1997 Constitution also permits limitations of rights. But these have to be “reasonable and justifiable in a free and democratic society”. This important protective condition is missing completely from the 2013 Constitution. Why?

Group ownership
Fijian land does not belong to individuals. It is owned by groups of people. This was clearly recognised in the 1997 Constitution. A full chapter of the document was dedicated to group rights. Much of this focused on Fijian land and protective provisions for it. Group rights are recognised as human rights. But there is no mention at all in the 2013 Constitution of iTaukei group ownership of land. This integral aspect of iTaukei culture has simply been removed. (Continued next week)

n The opinions expressed in this column are those of the Social Democratic Liberal Party. They are published by the Fiji Sun to enhance free and open debate ahead of the General Elections.
Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

Advertisement belies aims of the 2006 coup ……….

The aims of the 2006 coup have morphed several times, but one concept that has remained has been that ideal of multiracial equality and that there should be no statutory discrimination between races.


With the advertisement that is on page 37 of today’s Fiji Sun (25/07/12) for iTaukei Affairs’ scholarships, I wonder if this ideal isn’t also morphing into something else?

“Application are invited from qualified iTaukei and Rotumans for scholarships in 2013…”


If it’s unacceptable for schools to be ‘racially’ named, it is too much to expect the government to likewise divest scholarships of their racial requirement?


Gutter Press

What the people of Fiji want stopped being relevant a short time after Bainimarama took complete control of the country in 2006.

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Rajen Naidu <rajen_naidu@yahoo.com.au>
To: fiji sun <letters@fijisun.com.fj>
Sent: Sunday, 22 July 2012 8:15 AM
Subject: what’s Bainimarama to be?
In his letter to editor in the Fiji Sun (22/7) Rajendra Chaudhry issues a challenge to Mr Frank Bainmarama to decide ” whether[he] wants to be military commander or an aspiring political candidate?”
My guess – on the basis of Mr Bainimarama’s current status – is that he would prefer both!
What the people of Fiji want stopped being relevant a short time after Bainimarama took complete control of the country in 2006.
I suspect that’s the way it will remain for some time to come notwithstanding all the talk about the making of a new democratic constitution for Fiji.
But mine is of course just an ordinary person’s view.
Nobody needs to pay and attention to it.
Yours sincerely,
Rajend Naidu

Leone cabenatabua the Fiji Sun attack dog…… Balanced reporting? Journalism of Hope? Journalism of Smear has returned to Fiji.

By Leone cabenatabua Some staff at the regional university are not rapt with a certain expat academic’s attitude. From the time he arrived here the academic has become a Pacific expert overnight. According to Dickie Bird some of his students say they are put off when he starts talking about himself. They say he loves […]

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By Leone cabenatabua Tupuola Terry Tavita – the Samoan PM’s mouthpiece in attacking Fiji – has been silenced in at least one quarter. The international award-winning Fijian journalist Graham Davis pulled the plug on the Samoan Government newspaper’s editor making comments on the Grubsheet blog. It followed repeated warnings about Mr Tavita’s foul and racist […]

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