Update on the drama in Fiji is that, the deadlines set by the Army has come and gone placing the observers of military in episodes of infantile frustration. One vocal projectile of insanity was hurled at the Army Commander by the Prime Minister depicting hopeless expression.
The recent raid on the office of the President by the Fiji Police Force was revisited, when an official of the President's office demanded from the Police the return of those seized documents .
It also appears in this instance that the Fiji Police and Government have fallen out of favor with the President's office in the wake of the shameful raid. This division was more evident and distant, when the silence of the President's office was shattered proclaiming their avid support of the Army Commander.
Although, the Army Commander had been given clearance for audience quite readily, as seen with his 40 minute brief with the holder of the highest office in the state of Fiji; this further illustrates the loss in influence by the SDL Government and supporters. This support for the Army by the President's office, marks the stark contrast in ideals mirroring a similar fault that has also deepened with the general public in Fiji. One side for the Government and the other in Frank's camp.
This difference in opinion was raised by the Fiji Attorney General when he read the speech of the Prime Minister that questioned the silence of Fiji Law Society and their relunctance to take a position on the conflict between the Government and the Army, even though other Non Governmental Organizations had voiced theirs.
One similar view has been voiced by the iconic Human Rights Lawyer and wife of the C.E.O of Airports Fiji, Imrana Jalal whose opinion article appeared in Thursday's Fiji Times.
This is an excerpt:
Flirt with the rule of law at your peril
Thursday, November 30, 2006
A policeman stands guards over ballot boxes during the May 2006 general election
I refer to the opinion piece on Fiji by Graham Davis (High Noon in Fiji) in The Australian newspaper on 25 November 2006 and in The Fiji Times 29 November.
There is little doubt that Fiji has a special place in Davis' heart and that he is sincerely motivated.
However, his opinion piece is unsophisticated, is an irresponsible piece of journalism, particularly at this time of crisis, is deeply flawed from a legal perspective and is extremely dangerous for those of us trying to build a democracy based on the rule of law.
The essence of the rule of law requires us to solve our problems using lawful processes and democratic institutions such as the courts, the police and civil society.
To suggest that an illegal alternative might be justifiable undermines the building of democratic institutions, the ultimate power of the courts to rule any proposed law unconstitutional and makes a mockery of democracy and legitimate elections.
We Fijians wish to solve our problems using the rule of law.
This might involve challenging legislation that is unconstitutional or in violation of human rights, as has been done before, or voting out a government in a general election, and not by supporting the illegal removal of a government through the rule of the gun.
That is precisely what Davis is indirectly advocating: he is feeding the coup cycle and giving succour to the military.
Using the rule of law is certainly a longer and more tedious process, one which takes time, but to dispense with it in times of trouble is courting disaster.
Flirt with the rule of law at your peril.
I am curious to know whether Davis would indirectly advocate the same method in Australia whenever Howard attempts to pass unconstitutional and anti-human rights legislation through parliament or is he willing to wait out the lawful processes including the right of Australian citizens to use the courts for their grievances?
Where is it written that in those "uncivilised islands" of the Pacific live lesser people entitled to lesser rights then that accorded Australians, namely to use democratic processes and the rule of law to hold their governments accountable?
Davis and Australia need to be reminded that it was not Commander Bainimarama who brought back constitutional democracy to Fiji following the crisis in Fiji in 2000, but a poor, marginalised (now completely disenfranchised) Indo-Fijian farmer, eventually backed by civil society, through the landmark Chandrika Prasad court case.
Bainimarama actually filed a lengthy affidavit supporting the abrogation of the constitution.
It might be prudent to remember also, that it was the Commander who the courts have said committed the final illegal abrogation of the Constitution, when he unlawfully removed our former President Ratu Mara from Office.
We should let the rule of law and lawful processes take their course without any threat or perceived threat of illegal removals of government and of coups.
Have faith in us Mr Davis.
Have some faith in the ability of us Fijians to build our democracy without illegal interference.
What you must remember is that the current government was only voted in a few months ago.
Surely the electorate made its choice at that time, and whether we like that choice or not is not the issue.
The Fijian people cast their vote.
We the citizens of Fiji deserve a country without coups. Our children and the future generations certainly do.
Ms Jalal is an international human rights lawyer, a former Fiji Human Rights Commissioner, a Commissioner of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists and a Board member of both the Geneva-based International Council of Human Rights Policy and the Fiji Women's Rights Movement. These views are her own and not necessarily of the organisations with which she is associated.
Fiji Police Commissioner, Andrew Hughes has conveniently kept out of the spotlight recently only to give impromptu interviews if the circumstances weigh in his favor. Fiji TV 6pm news segment of Thurs. Nov. 30th quotes Sydney Morning Herald on the rumored resignation of Police Commissioner Hughes. This rumour has been flatly denied by the man himself speaking from Cairns in an inteview with Fiji Village.
This is the address to the nation by Fiji Prime Minister post- New Zealand talanoa session.
This is regarding the list of demands outlined by the Army recently. Despite the early comments of the seeking the application of the Biketawa Declaration by the Fiji P.M, the older and much wiser diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs plays the denial card.
Pacific Beat podcast of Dec 1st, 2006 has an overview from the Pacific Island leaders forum on the impasse in Fiji. The podcast also features an interview with the Fiji Police Commissioner.
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