Monday, April 30, 2007

Bottom of the Barrel.

S.i.F.M follows up on the post reporting the audit of Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB).

Fiji TV has reported that, the KPMG audit on the aspect of Pacific Connex has been completed. The following are images from the Fiji TV news segment that publicized the findings of the KPMG report on NLTB's contract with Pacific Connex. The audit findings were itemised in the same news bulletin by Fiji TV and was corroborated by Radio NZ article, which the labelled the report as "severely critical" of NLTB. Fiji Times website provided a reader's feedback of the story.

Although, in an interview with Fiji TV, Ballu Khan-owner of Pacific Connex, refuted the allegations in the KPMG audit report; despite acknowledging in the same interview that he had not read the report in it's entirety. Khan's objection's to the KPMG audit was corroborated in a Fiji Times article.
Khan, further alluded to the fact that the audit on NLTB's relationship with Pacific Connex was an attempt to discredit him and senior officials, who were suspended from NLTB. Among those mentioned by Khan, was Kalivati Bakani, former General Manager and Keni Dakuidreketi, a former NLTB board member and representative of APRIL.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Political Square Dancing in Fiji.

The subject of GCC's recent suspension was revisited in a Fiji TV interview by the former GCC Chairman, Ovini Bokini, who acknowledged the receipt of the suspension notice and appears to be coming to terms with the Interim Government's decision in suspending the GCC and its members.

(Above image: GCC's former Chairman on Fiji TV)

Undoubtedly, the GCC Chairman has sought to re-negotiate his way back onside with the powers that be. A similar such move was exercised by Bokini, subsequent to the events of Decemeber 5th, 2006. Later, Bokini reversed any notion of the GCC's cooperation in being apolitical and belligerently stonewalled the road map outlined by the Interim Government.

In concluding the Fiji TV interview, Bokini remained adamant that the GCC was acting within their brief, to instigate a head on collision with the central arm of Government, using democracy as a convenient battle ram.

Clearly, the trappings of the GCC has gone to the heads of some its members, who now are making numerous appearances to the Fiji media, in a last ditch effort to improve their P.R.

Leading the charge on opinion shaping, was a slanted editorial, by the Fiji Times, in support were two published infomercials on the G.C.C.

Getting bored

Friday, April 27, 2007

ONE of the hallmarks of good governance is to consult the people who are going to be affected by a decision or policy to be made.

Great leaders listen to others' views, including those under their authority. They are also good planners and, equally importantly, recognise and accept their limitations.

At the outset this interim administration had stressed the importance of good governance in the running of the State's affairs. They say the previous administration lacked that vital leadership quality thus the military takeover to clean up and put things right.

While that's arguable and people have their own views on the reasons behind the ousting of a democratically elected government, it needs to be pointed out to those who hold the reins of power today to seriously look back at their four-month-old track record.

They will find out that it is not very encouraging. In fact, they ignore some of the essential and fundamental ingredients of good governance they have been vigorously advocating.

Some of these had been aired by members of the public in the open column of this newspaper, in media reports locally and overseas.

This fact needs to be pointed out now so that members of the interim Cabinet are fully aware that they themselves are not above the very practices they say are tantamount to bad governance.

There is little or no consultation with the people on important decisions which touch their lives, even at grassroots level. One glaring example of recent times is the decision to suspend the Great Council of Chiefs pending the review of its membership structure. One would have thought the interim minister in charge would have mapped out a way to go down to the people, especially the indigenous community, who will be affected by this decision and seek their views.

Another is the decision to cut the pay of civil servants by 5 per cent even before negotiations with the public sector trade unions were completed. They'll do what they want and no questions expected and accepted.

It becomes clearer to the people as days go by that only a handful of so-called leaders, who themselves know they have no mandate from the people to lead them, are making these decisions on important issues. The sad fact is that they have no-one to question them on the decisions they make.

They basically are accountable to no-one except themselves. Yet accountability immediately appears at the top of the list whenever good governance is discussed and put into practice.

This is a sad state of affairs as far as the managing of the national affairs is concerned. The solution lies in the return to democratic rule, to where we were before; to what the majority of the people in this country want. If the interim administration doubts this, the best way to gauge what the people want is to hold a public referendum. Anyone who champions good governance would certainly vote for that.

Right now, many people are getting bored, frustrated and fed up. And that's not a good sign.

One article featuring, Teimumu Kepa, GCC member from the Rewa Province. This is the second of such articles published by the Fiji Times, exclusively featuring the Paramount chief of Rewa.

This is the excerpt of the article:

Chief queries State's agenda

Friday, April 27, 2007

A CHIEF has questioned the decision by the interim administration to suspend the Great Council of Chiefs meeting and review the Fijian Affairs Act.

The paramount chief of Rewa and Burebasaga confederacy Ro Teimumu Kepa asked what the administration was "trying to achieve with what they were doing". She was responding to comments by interim Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau the GCC would not be meeting "for a long time" because of the review.

Ro Teimumu said issues which affected the Fijian people and their institutions needed wide consultation as had been the practice in the past.

"There is a need for wide consultation on the issue and the review should not be done by only a few people or a committee because the decisions made affect the Fijian people," she said.

"What these people are doing is that they have eroded the Fijian establishment and the Bose Levu Vakaturaga is something that we hold dear."

Ratu Epeli had said all council members had been sent suspension letters. "We have issued the members with their suspension letters and this is something that we have been working on for the time being," he said.

GCC chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini said he received his suspension letter on Wednesday. He said the letter would not change the resolution of the chiefs to uphold the 1997 Constitution.

Ro Teimumu said if the United Nations, European Union and Eminent Persons Group recognised the GCC, then she did not understand why interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and Ratu Epeli were causing such commotion on the issue. She said these foreign institutions held the BLV "very highly and it is a respected body".

"I just want to ask them what they want to achieve out of this and what legacy do they want to leave for their children and grandchildren," she said.

"Especially when they are Fijians and it should be understood that Fijians are people of great patience." Ro Teimumu said the vanua had "eyes and ears and it is a living spirit". Bua chief Ratu Filimone Ralogaivau said he had not received his letter.

"We are appointed by our province to be members of the BLV and if we are to be suspended it has to come from the province," he said.

"I believe the ministry should be looking at the six nominees to the BLV appointed by the Prime Minister because it was the people of our province who appointed us," Ratu Filimone said. He said he had been a member since 1999 and the council had managed to work out a system "to stand alone without any political influence over the years".

Ratu Filimone said in 1999, they elected their own chairman and they were part of the 1997 Constitution. "We are an independent body and we have managed to stand on our own with an investment of $10million in the Fijian Trust that has now amounted to $60million," he said.

He said from the funds in the Fijian Trust, $600,000 was allocated every year to cater for the council meeting so the GCC "really did not need assistance from the Government".

Tailevu chief Ratu Timoci Vesikula said he had not received any letter but had been hearing the news from the media on the issue. "I have not received it but if they do give it I will just accept it because what else can we do about it," he said. Roko Tui Macuata Ratu Jone Matanababa said the three members nominated by the province remained as GCC members.

He said Ratu Peni Sogia, Ratu Wate Saviri and Ratu Apenisa Bogiso were still reps of the Macuata province to the GCC.

Apparently, fair and balanced coverage has never been a strong suite of the Fiji Times. It is only accurate and objective journalism to provide both sides of the story. Sadly, this is the only side of the GCC issue, which these gatekeepers of Fiji media have long peddled.
David Robbie's 2000 podcast seems to have parallels in 2006.

These are excerpts from Pacific Media Watch, quoting Times of India article in 2000.


Times of India, 19 December 2000

SUVA: The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fiji Times newspaper came under fire over the weekend for allegedly waging a "bitter campaign" against ousted prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry and the People's Coalition government after their election last year.

Journalism lecturer David Robie made the attack at a media conference in Mooloolaba, Australia.

Robie, a New Zealander, circulated a paper titled "Coup Coup Land: The Press and the Putsch in Fiji," in which he questioned the professionalism of Fiji journalists and the news organizations the worked for.

He claimed some female journalists practiced skirt journalism to the point of being sexually involved with politicians in order to get information.

The writings and editorial slant were frequently based on the journalist's race and personal political opinions, added Robie, the head of the USP's journalism school.

The Fiji Times, he said, raged a relentless campaign against the Chaudhry government not long after its election in 1999.

"In spite of its claims to the contrary, that it treated all governments of the day similarly, the newspaper was blatantly agonistic," Robie claimed, adding that the "newspaper's reporting was spearheaded by a journalist with close ties with opposition indigenous nationalists."

He also hit out at what he said was an unusually close relationship the media enjoyed with coup leader George Speight and the hostage takers in the early weeks of the May 19 coup, saying it raised serious ethical questions.

There were no immediate comments front he management of the Fiji Times. The 120-year old newspaper is the largest selling daily and most profitable media organization in Fiji. (India Abroad News Service)

Cafe Pacific online article analysing the use of Fiji media before, during and after the 2000 coup.

For sociologist Premila Devi, this was nothing new. In a paper almost a decade earlier, analysing the 1992 general election campaign, she had found that both daily newspapers of the period, The Fiji Times and the Daily Post, had a "bias towards a certain ideology":

It is the same ideology that is shared by the [Great] Council of Chiefs, the military, the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) and large segments of the ethnic Fijian population. That putting this ideology in practice relegates a half of Fiji's population to a third-class citizenry did not matter. (Devi, 1992: 35)

The second article published by Fiji Times was written by a former diplomat, Filimone Ralogaivau.
This is the excerpt of the article:

Looking back at the GCC

Friday, April 27, 2007

The following is a paper prepared by RATU FILIMONE RALOGAIVAU, a member of the Great Council of Chiefs from Bua, on the history and role of the chiefs' council.

THE Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs) comprises 56 members.

They are the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, six chiefs, 42 provincial council members, three Rotuma Island Council members and the sole life member Sitiveni Rabuka.

The quorum for a meeting is two-thirds of the council's membership.

As for the Fijian Affairs Board, it was resolved by the BLV in April 2000 that it comprise seven chiefs' council members, five parliamentarians, the Minister for Fijian Affairs and the chairman of the BLV.

Total membership is 14 and the meeting is to be chaired by the Minister for Fijian Affairs.


In 1876, when the Fijian administration was established, two opposing views were seriously considered.

One was the private enterprise point of view according to the capitalistic concept of self-reliance and self seeking with the notion of ultimately developing independent individuals as in democratic societies.

Two, to avoid social disruptions, Fijians must be ruled according to their social/cultural and traditional systems as was promised to them before Cession. This second option was considered best because it augured well with existing customs of the land.

In 1915, the colonial administration was dissatisfied. The natives had lost the respect their forefathers had for the Government of the colony. Fijians must be given the opportunity to adapt before being inducted to changes taking place. Any form of administration under the chiefs was no longer desirable by the colonial administrator.

The Fijian administrator as a separate entity was then abolished. District commissioners and stipendiary magistrates ruled over the people but communalism proved difficult to break.

In 1944, Sir Philp Mitchell, the then Governor, examined the Fijian administration and concluded that those running it had no authority to do so.

Together with Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, they put forward bills with proposals considered beneficial to the Fijian people.

Various regulations put in place during between 1944 and 1967 caused the emergence of a golden era in the annals of the Fijian society. Significant features in the change included:

Law and order prevailed in Fijian villages;

Poverty was non-existence

People live in beautifully thatched traditional houses with secure food supply and unity in socialising with neighbours;

General respect for the institution was realised;

Appointment of district administrators (Buli) provided solid leadership.

In 1965, the Fijian court system and various regulations were abolished. People were free from the yoke of communal work. As a result, sharp increases in lawlessness were realised widely.

In 1975, the central Government was very concerned and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Crime was appointed.

Governor Sir Grant, a former Chief Justice of Fiji, observed that "the abolition of the bulk of the Fijian Affairs regulations led to the lack of control in the villages and an alarming decline in village discipline".

In 1981 the Royal Commission on the Treatment of Offenders was appointed and was very specific on certain parts of the Fijian Court:

Re-introduction of the Fijian Court set-up to be incorporated into the centralised court system;

Desirability of incorporating customary laws;

In 1984, the Cole Review. Re-instituted the tikina and village councils and appointed the turaga ni koro (village headman). This was the beginning of the district and provincial administrative system still in use today.

Roles of the GCC

It is clear from the analysis of the GCC's history that its establishment was associated with the various attempts at the formation of governments in Fiji.

The Cession of the Fiji Islands in 1874 bears testimony to the desire of the chiefs for the creation of a confederacy of native states under Queen Victoria. Fiji was united in peace under British protection and rule.

Past roles of GCC

In 1875, the Colonial Government took steps to build into the political structure of the colony a system of Fijian administration based on existing organisations.

Such a step provided for the improvement of the existing institutions so that natives could manage their own affairs without exciting any suspicion or destroying their self respect.

The apex of the colonial Fijian administration was the Native Council, (the forerunner of the GCC) which saw the linkage between the village authority to the Governor himself. Notwithstanding the council's absence of legislative powers, (as its resolutions are mere recommendations) Governor Gordon saw the Council's influence in the following light:

"But though not possessing no direct legislative authority, it is impossible not to see such a body wield far more influence on the course of legislation than can be enjoyed by a half dozen natives sitting as members of the legislature otherwise composed wholly of white men, as is the case in New Zealand and other states.''

Present role

While the constitutional role of the GCC is to appoint the President, Vice-President and 14 members of the Senate, its primary function as an advisory body, is to submit to the President such recommendations and proposal as it may deem for the benefit of the Fijian people.
It also considers such questions relating to the good governance and well being of the Fijian people as the president or the Board may from time to time submit to the GCC and to take decision or make appropriate recommendations as stipulated under the Fijian Affairs Act.

GCC secretariat

The secretariat of the GCC was established in September 1998, with the view of facilitating the transition of the GCC to a fully independent and autonomous body. The GCC elects its own chairperson and deputy.

The function of the secretariat is to administer council meetings and to provide necessary information on social, economic and cultural issues considered to be for the welfare and good governance of the Fijian people, for the Great Council of Chiefs to deliberate and decide upon.

In this respect the council through its secretariat has shifted from a passive institution to a proactive one, where it initiates researches and subcommittees to conduct investigations and report on issues that are or may be in the interest of the Fijians.


The council's resolutions and recommendations since 1876 are beyond the capacity of this paper, suffice for the purpose of the same to highlight a few:

Recommendation on the proprietary unit of native land to be the mataqali (clan/tribe);

Recommendations to establish the Native Land Trust Board;

Role after the two coups of 1987;

Role in severing its ties to one political party so as to embrace all Fijian political parties to foster Fijian political unity and paramountcy.


In view of the enormity of the task that the Council and its secretariat had been asked to perform, its efforts has been impeded by the lack of funds and the imposition of certain restrictions preventing it from acting independently especially with regards to staffing and other administrative functions which has to be sanctioned by the Ministry and the Board.

Future role of GCC

It is evident from the 1987 and 2000 political turmoil that the GCC has had to change from an advisory body to an executive one when there is a political vacuum.

The future direction and role of the Great Council of Chiefs can thus best be summed: " the maintenance of the GCC is a necessity, if the system of government through natives is to be kept up. It acts as a safety valve to many grievances that might otherwise rankle and swell to dangerous proposition, as a touchstone of feeling of the utmost value in gauging the tendencies of the natives and as the most powerful auxillary in carrying out the wishes of government.

"With the aid of the Bose Vakaturaga the Governor can without effort do in native matters whatever he pleases.

Without it the management of those affairs would be a matter of extreme difficulty."

It is respectfully submitted that the above quoted observations of former governor Sir Arthur Gordon is, with modifications, a true body as it was in 1875, some 126 years later, and will hold true for a lot of years to come for as long as there exist a bona fide indigenous Fijian race.

(Above image: Official Notice of the GCC's suspension, signed by the Interim Fijian Affairs Minister, Epeli Ganilau)

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Buck Stops Where?

(Above image: Fiji TV reporting on the UN delegation in Suva)

(Above image: Fiji TV report on Brij Lal)

Radio Fiji article covers the issue of the U.N fact-finding mission in Fiji, which has been labelled as "duplicitous" by the Australian National University professor, Brij Lal.

Whether or not, it is duplicitous remains to be seen, as invitees to the UN meeting, who were interviewed on Fiji TV, said that they were instructed by the UN team not to give any press statements about the meeting and that a report will be released later after the findings by the UN observer group are completed. That fact was corroborated by an article by ABC.

The method of issuing a single press release by this U.N teams is different from the manner employed by the E.U or Eminent Persons Group. That is, soon after the meetings, each party had their own perspective and interpretations on the deliberations.

This UN mission places an asterisk mark on the question of international authority. Fiji Village article also confirms no press comments and furthermore, the independence of the U.N.

(Above image: UNDP Resident Coordinator, Richard Dictus)

Fiji Village quotes Richard Dictus:

"the mission would make an independent assessment of the situation in Fiji following the December 5th takeover, and would not depend on previous reports".

Would the U.N's team upset the apple cart of the Pacific Island Forum Joint Working Group, whose plans for the Fiji census in 2007 was reported by Radio Fiji article; or should the preceeding observer groups interpolate their view with findings from the UN observer group. Who has the final say?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Heart of Corruption.

It has become somewhat clear that, some personalities within Fiji Law Society(FLS) are succeeding in creating stumbling blocks to progress in Fiji.

Although, a recent challenge mounted by FLS, on the appointment of acting Chief Justice reported by Radio NZ article; the acting incumbent, Anthony Gates declared in a Fiji Times article that, the Judiciary will continue on as normal.

In an overly dramatic interview with Bloomberg's correspondent, the FLS Vice-President, Tupou Draunidalo labelled the new Anti-Corruption Commission's powers as "sinister" and "draconian". Draunidalo's interview did trivialize the importance of such organization; whilst ignoring the devastating nepotism and wide spread corruption, that was allowed to spread in Fiji without any criminal deterrents in place.

One needs to look no further than the annual Auditor General reports to Parliament, to raise serious questions about the existing system of checks and balances.

Although, Draundalo raised a point that, "power given to the panel, appears to break various sections of the constitution and common law"; exactly how and where these alleged departures from Common Law and the Constitution occur, remains the sole decision of Fiji courts to make and certainly not the privy of Fiji Law Society or its members.

The Interim Attorney General was quoted in a Radio NZ article that, the independent commission would hire some foreign citizens to arrest the growing trend of white collar crime in Fiji. Apparently, it would seem any measure to curb corruption in Fiji would be resisted by the same circle of lawyers; who may be linked to the benefactors of corruption.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On Aristocratic Legitimacy in Fiji.

Mercurial political change coat, Tupeni Baba claims in an interview (audio 1)with Niu Fm that, the unhappiness of the decision to suspend the GCC, is reflected in the relative silence of the indigenous populace.

Baba echoes the sentiments of deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, covered by Fiji Village article and a Radio New Zealand piece.
Although, the assertion by Baba (audio 2)highlighting the importance of chiefs, with respect to tribal leadership; Baba neglects the racial quotient of involving chiefs with national politics. Ironically it was the GCC who supported the coups of 1987 and 2000 and gave their approval in 2005 for the controversial R.T.U Bill, a fact reported by ABC's Pacific Beat article.

The recent rejection of the Interim Government's nomination for VP, labeled by the Fiji Sun Political Editor, Maika Bolatiki as a wake up and shake up call; may in fact be an acknowledgment of selective reasoning:

“The rejection of the President's choice of the Vice President by the Great Council of Chiefs is a wake up and shake up call to the Interim Government. It is also a slap in the face for the administration. However, the Interim Government should receive the decision in a positive manner. The council cares for the people of Fiji and likewise the Government that governs them. This is a fact”.

Bolatiki's rejoice in the VP rejection and calling this as a “slap in the face for the administration” only underlines his questionable premise, declaring that the decision should be accepted positively. The Fiji Sun Political Editor's claims appear to apply disjunctive syllogism: 'GCC cares for the people of Fiji and the Government that governs them'. Therefore the GCC's decision should always override the position of Government, regardless of who is in power.

An odd reality check to point out is that, the majority of Fiji hardly knows the names of the GCC members and neither do the majority of Fiji actively participate in selecting the members of GCC and their ancestral claim of mandate is quite simply a fraudulent application of consent. GCC's mandate is not conducted using democratic principles and their decision does not reflect those of all indigenous people in Fiji.

If anything, GCC attempts to discuss the legal aspects of the Interim Government was exceedingly beyond their scope of expertise and represents their adherence to the Peter Principle-i.e In every hierarchy, each individual rises to their own level of incompetence. What is so questionable in GCC's case, historically very little measurement of this incompetance was done, that it became a dominant trait in an organization where performance was seldom discussed, let alone quantified.

GCC's decision to collide with the Interim Government reflects the hidden agendas of certain personalities within it, to organize a parallel train of authority, using that familiar template of ethnonationalism.
Bolatiki is also familiar with this template of misinformation, that actively dresses up this pseudo representative of Fiji's indigenous people, into the gowns of democratic ideals, in spite of the deductive reasonings against it.
Although, Bolatiki's belief that the administration was shaken to its core; silencing that assertion was the noise of punctured egos of GCC members, who learnt subsequently that the Interim Government had indefinitely suspended the aristocratic institution and diverting any state funding which GCC had freeloaded on.

This suspension is perhaps a watershed moment in Fiji's history, where this beacon of cultural decadence was seen more as a liability than an asset by the Interim Government. A move which could open up infinite possibilities for a plural society in Fiji. A society that will be absent of agenda driven influences, by a group of out-of-touch chieftains, who have long operated with an attitude of entitlement, breeding a contemptuous perspective to good governance and sustaining a cartel that lacked any basic mechanism of oversight.

In a nutshell, the membership of GCC is solely based on birth right and their basic mission was to adjudicate on matters pertinent to the Fijian indigenous population. Sadly, these grass roots issues have long been ignored or trivialized by the GCC who appear to have lofty priorities other than their basic duty of betterment of lifestyles for its people. The sad lesson which the people of Fiji have long learnt is that, the only betterment GCC members advocated, was their own finances.

GCC recently through its Chairman, appointed during the tenure of ousted Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, blatantly waded into the political discourse, despite earlier reassurances from the Chairman that the GCC would be apolitical. It is only accurate to point out the blood ties between Qarase and the GCC Chairman; to understand his lordship's resentment.

For certain, the Interim Government's decision to alienate the GCC, is derived from the conundrum, which the beleaguered institution had positioned itself into. In essence, the GCC had bitten the hand that fed it and paradoxically attempted to act unilaterally as an elected form Government, when in reality GCC was structurally farthest from it. Nor does GCC practice the basic tenets of democracy, it's application in Fiji which they attempted to preside over during their latest meeting.

Bolatiki' false dilemma in comparing the rationale for 2006 events with the events from the 2000 coup is perhaps a token reconstruction of history, that is punctuated with irrelevant reasons and perforated with misinterpretation.

“In Justice Anthony Gates' judgment on the Chandrika Prasad case he mentioned something on the doctrine of necessity where [...]The doctrine could not be used to give sustenance to a new extra-constitutional regime. Nor it could provide a valid basis for abrogating the Constitution and replacing it with a Constitutional Review Committee and Interim Civilian Government. Necessity did not demand any of that."

According to that rationale used by Bolatiki, since the 2000 case of necessity was rendered invalid by the Justice Gates, then the 2006 use of necessity used by the Interim Government is equally invalid.
To ascertain that argurment, it is only prudent to examine all other subsequent events. That would make Laisenia Qarase's 2001 appointment as Interim Prime Minister invalid as well. If Qarase did not accept the position of P.M and relinquished it back to the 1999 elected Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudary, then perhaps the events of 2006 would not have occurred at all. Incidentally, having a rear viewing perspective only embarks on an endless cycle of history revision and leads to purely hypothetical conclusions.

An equally fallacious form of reasoning was the Eminent Persons Group's adjudication of the events of December 5th 2006, which Bolatiki attempted to frame:

“When the Pacific Forum's appointed Eminent Persons Group (EPG) visited Fiji it touched on the legality of the Interim Government.
The EPG report said: The legality issue was raised with the EPG by several interlocutors, both legal experts and lay persons. While some agreed with the commander's claim that his actions were justified under the doctrine of necessity, the majority of those with whom the EPG spoke were not convinced that the extra-constitutional actions of the commander (and subsequently the President) could be upheld on this ground. The legal difficulty arises in particular because the actions taken were in fulfillment of threats to the public order made by the RFMF itself, a situation that excludes the applicability of the necessity doctrine. The EPG understands that the prevailing legal view is therefore that the commander's action in seizing power on December 5 was illegal. It went on to say that the legality of the recent events must ultimately be determined by properly constituted Fiji courts of law.”

By and large, EPG's own report admits that legality will ultimately be determined by the Fiji Courts of Law. By extension, the EPG view is reiterated by Bolatiki, who also pre-judges the Courts decision by mitigating the speculation of illegality, whilst ignoring the moral dimensions to it.

An article published by Scoop, reports a New Zealand libertarian's comments on the Interim Government decision to suspend Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs (GCC).

This is an excerpt:

Crunch Time in struggle for equalty in Fiji
Thursday, 19 April 2007, 10:37 am
Press Release: Tim Wikiriwhi
Libertarian Independent.

In Fiji terrible powers are engaged in a life and death struggle. It is Justice and equality vs tribalism and apartheid.

While outside observers may be unable to grasp such details as the names, motivation, and ongoing intrigue of the various factions within the united chiefs of Fiji, we still have a good enough grasp of the situation to understand they are at a crisis point. I don’t see why bloggers are so surprised by the “unconstitutional” behavior of Commodore Bainimarama regarding the current confrontation of Commodore Bainimarama and the chiefs as this was inevitable.

It is this corrupt political body that was behind the Rabuka and Speight coups. It will be too much to expect that these racists who backed the previous ‘Indigenous rights’ coups to surrender their corrupt powers without a violent struggle.

We here in New Zealand are in no position to suggest how Bainimarama defeats this evil obstacle. I hope that he has enough Statesmanship to win a good percentage of support from the more enlightened section of the chiefs and thereby keep to a minimum the number who must be kept from insurrection.

This is an unavoidable part of Bainimarama’s attempt to rid Fiji of racist politics. He must divest these tribal chiefs of corrupt powers that perverted the democracy of Fiji into an apartheid system.

This crisis raises the question, “Is it possible to have real political revolution without the revolution first occurring in the minds of the people?” Unfortunately The UN has successfully lobotomized the masses of the western world.

Has Bainimarama the Statesmanship to swing this dire situation over to victory for Justice and equality? I hope so!

I hope everyone who cares for the well being of Fiji speaks up and calls the chiefs to forsake racism and take the side of progress and justice!

The Commodore ought to appeal to the people to influence their chiefs to support him. The chiefs ought not to immediately think that a system of equality is bad for Fiji or native Fijians. I ask them to seriously consider the justice of the cause, rather than seeking to maintain racist laws.

I hope that Commodore Bainimarama recognizes the chiefs’ right to exist as a voluntary organization, as long as they don’t propagate insurrection against the government. It is a moment for the chiefs to show greatness of soul or alternatively for a display of racist bigotry. It is a time for great leadership to shine.

The chiefs need to understand is that equality before the law does not undermine their positions as Fijian chiefs whatsoever but actually protects it as a private voluntary association, separate from government interference.

Your tribal status does not come by the power of government, but from family tradition and custom. This is a totally private matter.

I am busy trying to show Maoridom the same truth. I am try to convince Maori to see the glory of equality before the law and the corruption of the desire for racial favoritism.

We in New Zealand need to end Waitangi treaty separatism. There are grounds for Commodore Bainimarama to arrest those chiefs who are planning insurrection or recruiting anti government racist gangs etc.

I call upon every chief of Fiji to support Bainimarama’s drive for equality. I make these statements to encourage the people of Fiji to support Bainimarama during this difficult stage of the reformation of their government and Constitution, and to counter the rubbish coming from such people as Winston Peters.

The Christian chiefs ought to take pride in standing up for equality of every soul before God Almighty and the Law. The best thing a chief can do is support a new constitution of equality.

Tim Wikiriwhi

Although, the GCC had sought advice from a New Zealand lawyer on the issue of illegality prior to their meeting reported by Radio NZ,
the article published by New Zealand Herald, written by Dev Nadkarni, the editor of Auckland based Island Business outlines a level of dichotomy. This is an excerpt of the Nadkarni article;

Little time left as Fiji chiefs' power wavers
5:00AM Wednesday April 18, 2007
By Dev Nadkarni

Dev Nadkarni is the editor of news website and is based in Auckland.

Last week, Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, ordered the powerful Council of Chiefs' offices shut and suspended all its future meetings. The council, a 55-member constitutional body of hereditary chiefs and prominent indigenous citizens, is charged with such functions as electing the president, vice-president and some senate members.

For the first time in the country's history, the council last week rejected the President's nominee, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, for vice-president, a position which became vacant after Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi resigned following the December 5 coup.

Bainimarama lashed out at the Council of Chief's rejection - on the grounds that Madraiwiwi was a part of the "illegal" administration - saying they were putting their personal interests above the national interest. He then ordered the closure of the council's offices.

News reports say that the Army has been keeping a close watch on some of the council members.

This was the chiefs' first chance to make their collective presence felt on the political firmament since Bainimarama took over the reins. Their rejection of the nomination was not wholly unexpected. It was a confrontation waiting to happen.

Unfortunately for Fiji, it came as things seemed to be taking a turn for the better after last month's Pacific Forum of foreign ministers, held in Vanuatu.

There has been a thaw in New Zealand and Australia's rigid, isolationist approach to the problem in Fiji since last December and a working group of regional leaders, officials from New Zealand, Australia and Fiji and nominees of the interim administration was formed to work on the recommendations arising from the Pacific Forum.

Many of the recommendations found favour with the Fiji Army, including the possibility of holding elections earlier than 2010.

Last week's development may not in itself have a bearing on this process but it threw up a dustcloud of uncertainty on Fiji's socio-political landscape, because it is unlikely that members of the Great Council of Chiefs - accustomed to the trappings of power given to it by the British in 1876 and then institutionalised by the country's constitutions and a multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded annual grant - will continue smarting under this huge snub for long.

Many chiefs have found their way to powerful positions in the statutory bodies, are wealthy, and still wield influence over their people as they ride around in their expensive four-wheel-drives known in Fiji as ratumobiles.

The interim administration, however, does not believe the chiefs have the clout of past years.

Bainimarama told me that his Administration did not see any possibility of an indigenous backlash. He said the people had seen through their corrupt chiefs and pointed out examples where people had defied chiefly orders to oppose his coup by not participating in protest marches, something previously unheard of in Fiji's hierarchical society.

After last week's developments, the Army doesn't seem to be so sure.

After the council's offices were closed, some of the chiefs planned to meet elsewhere, but reports said the Army soon moved in to stop that happening. The Army also took in a prominent council member for questioning,

Colonel Pita Driti, hitherto the Army's silent strongman, became vocal last week and imposed orders prohibiting the assembly of people anywhere in the country.

That makes it illegal for the chiefs to address their people in public without police permission. It is unlikely the chiefs will be able to take any action in haste, especially with public meetings banned. This may be a good time for them to reassess their hold over their territories, for there is no doubt that their support base has been substantially eroded.

Whether they are able to galvanise support among their people on ideological platforms such as respect for traditions of the chiefly system, or the fact that this was yet another unconstitutional action, is questionable.

The only thing that might possibly fan a popular uprising is if the economic downturn continues - people are having their wages cut and have been losing their jobs since the coup - and the interim Government fails to come up with tangible results in its clean-up operation and takes corrective measures.

A perception of widespread economic distress would be a far more opportune time to sow the seeds of a mass movement fuelled by ideological and emotional sentiments.

That is the kind of climate the chiefs would find worth dying for.

Another article by Radio New Zealand, reports that the suspension of GCC has already been gazetted; despite the GCC Chairman's incessant stance on the Vice President.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Moral Dimensions for Gunslingers.

(Above image: Fiji boys employed in private security in Iraq)

This Washington Post article which covers the private security industry in Iraq and the particular article mentions two Fijian employees of Triple Canopy and their brush with a trigger happy member of their security detail.


Youtube video below portrays the Private Security in action.

A video posted below covers the subject of private security industry in Iraq.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

GCC's Fall From Grace.

It seems that the Great Council of Chiefs are no longer considered "great" after the media reports confirmed that, the Interim Government suspended any further meetings organized by the aristocratic institution.

Feedback on the reports of GCC's suspension was provided by Fiji Times website.

The following is an excerpt of 40 comments from the Fiji Time website "Have Your Say":

Have Your Say Topic

Your Comments : Chiefs now face clean-up'

THE interim administration has directed a "clean-up" of the Great Council of Chiefs with the Fijian Affairs Ministry tasked to execute the directive. [See full story]

» Comment now.

Raho of Nadi (4 hours and 26 minutes ago)
The writing is on the wall - desperate illegal regime wielding power like it's rightfully theirs.

The day you mess around with the Chiefs, that's the final nail in the coffin.

Dan Tuinaceva of Georgia (3 hours and 45 minutes ago)
I'm still trying to come to terms with these developments. Shaking up our highest traditional body? Too much for me to comprehend at the moment.

Traditional Fijian politics runs deeper than modern politics. Tt's as old as anyone can remember and is full of intricacies and intrigues.

It's just too foolhardy for anyone to have an educated assumption about what going on.

kaiviti of Other (2 hours and 36 minutes ago)
Epeli, just clean your own mess up first, don't worry about the GCC. Your house smells of greed and covetousness, and is wrapped in a lust for power.

soloikamica of Virginia-Washington (2 hours and 32 minutes ago)
Try it Voreqe. Don't you know that the chiefs are from God as stated in the Bible.

Voreqe and Ganilau: why do you have to question the presence of Ro Teimumu at the meeting ... she is the Roko Tui Dreketi, the highest position in the Burebasaga confederacy. You are fighting a loosing battle!

Yalo malua of Fiji (2 hours and 23 minutes ago)
The interim administration has not thought of the situation that they faced on Wednesday. The interim government did not follow the process and they have missed out a few steps. Their immediate reaction showed immaturity and desperation.

spunky of Fiji (2 hours and 21 minutes ago)
Epeli is not a role model himself and isn't recognised by his own grassroots, he is an opportunist and his words are not recognised any more. Clean your impasse first to your province before requesting submissions.

Ricky Miller of Australia (1 hour and 4 minutes ago)
It's about time to get rid of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga. It is just time wasting and costing too much. Chiefs don't speak on behalf of the people, they speak for themselves and their pockets. Please stay home and plant cassava and dalo. Good on you Bainimarama, thanks for the good work.

Ratu of Australia (55 minutes ago)
We don't need the GCC: they are just useless. Go back to your villages and do something to better your lives.

These chiefs are just stalling the government and nothing good comes out from their useless meetings.

Frank Bainimarama, you are the best leader Fiji has ever produced. Keep it up.

Rev Roqica of Australia (44 minutes ago)
Responding to Sloikamica of Washington's comment. God did not appoint these chiefs, these chiefs appoint themselves. God doesn't appoint lazy and corrupt chiefs, so please think again before you speak.

Political Polly of Fiji (42 minutes ago)
This is getting way too obvious! Seems like a Ganilau & Mara affair here with their puppet - Bainimarama! Plain opportunists I'd say ... no shame!

wise of United States (32 minutes ago)
The GCC is coming to the end of its lifetime. It has become obsolete and is being pushed aside by its own inability to adapt and improvise in this new millennium. Just like the dinosaurs...

Avi Maharaj of Australia (13 minutes ago)
It is a good idea to clean up the mess at the GCC but it should be noted that the membership of the FAB Board has some of the likes of the Qarase government and I think it would be wise to clean the FAB Board first before we go any further.

Avi Maharaj of Australia (12 minutes ago)
It is a good idea to clean up the mess at the GCC but it should be noted that the membership of the FAB Board has some of the likes of the Qarase government and I think it would be wise to clean the FAB Board first before we go any further.

The interim PM has announced the suspension of further GCC meetings and the reallocation of their budget. Is this the correct way to handle the situation? Is the GCC being manipulated, and if so, by whom?

» Have Your Say now. (127 responses so far)

iuseless of Australia (15 hours and 8 minutes ago)
Well, that seems to be Voreqe's answer to everything, too late for him, the chiefs have made their views known.

Looks like all the well wishes before the meeting were a farce and it looks like its not really the presidents pick that got rejected, judging by his and Ganilau's comments.

On the other hand I believe the GCC was manipulated: by the views of their people, the way it should be! Great going GCC!

3-legged pig of Fiji (15 hours and 5 minutes ago)
Clear signs that Frank was never interested in discussion, consensus or cooperation, all basic democratic principles.

Instead he has shown himself to favour a dictatorial attitude, preferring to surround himself with people who do what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants.

He has no time for other peoples opinions; it seems that his is the only one that matters. It is either 'My Way or the Highway'!

Who died and made him king?

No one could possibly say the GCC is perfect, but Franks behaviour towards them reminds one of a kid sulking on the playground, holding the ball to ransom and refusing to let anyone play, unless they play by his rules.

Semi Meo of Australia (14 hours and 58 minutes ago)
What's next? suspending the next Methodist conference? next Hibiscus festival? Next, all Churches that preach "against the IG"? Then the VKB will be edited? and the list goes on. Thanks to the National Alliance party and Fiji Labour Party for bringing us down this road of no return.

Freedom of Other (14 hours and 51 minutes ago)
3 legged pig, the GCC represents all the Fijian people and 87% of the land; this is an equity representation.

Frank represents what the GCC can't represent; that is, the 450,000 thousand "other people", plus the infrastructure, plus the economy.

Now put them into a democracy.

My suggestion: take the GCC to the village and sort themselves out there, and let Frank do what he has to do for the nation.

The other 450,000 they are out of this decision making anyway, they are just sitting back suffering as the economy keeps looking for the bottom and the 297,500 in poverty will rise to 300,000.

Hard and decisive decisions are the order of the day.

I think Frank really is trying to get the democracy in all its entirety to all.

Su nene qoi of Vitilevu (14 hours and 49 minutes ago)
It clearly shows that the president is a puppet. The truth is the military is running the country. Authoritarian type of leadership. It shows that their choice of VP has been rejected by the chiefs.

Why can't the president do his work without the interference of the army? Why can't the Lady talked to the president and say something? Now it is going to be worse...

The money that Chaudhry is crying to get from EU will be even harder to get now.

I salute the chiefs for their stand. I only wish all the chiefs could expel all the army from their villages, along with their families, to look for another place to stay. Get them out of the village; father, mother, and all.

Let's go chiefs; he wants it his way, so we show him that this is our way.

Dr. Jim Anthony of United States (14 hours and 48 minutes ago)
There is no "correct" way to handle these kinds of problems. There is no handbook to which you can turn and say: Ah, here is the answer, on page 112!

What works is what makes the most sense--in terms, particularly, of how whatever decision you make is logical, reasonable, effective and politically smart. These are all soft criteria.

Is the decision which has been made the best in the present circumstances? Difficult to say because from the outside we only have a limited number of facts.

For example, the Driti disclosures, are unsettling--in my view direct foreign interference may well be a real problem for the interim administration. There are other factors that any government must take into the calculus of its considerations.

Confrontation between the GCC and the present regime might have been avoided--in the best interests of the country. But what's been done now, cannot be undone. As Ratu Sir KKT Mara said in the aftermath of the 1987 coup: "After you've beaten egg yolks up and made an omelette, you cannot retrieve the egg yolks."

Same thing with the GCC/interim regime stand-off. There's more to come, no doubt. Buckle your seat belts!

Davenport-Larking of Good Governance. (14 hours and 40 minutes ago)
The Interim Government have a road-map, with road-posts to keep reaching. They have assured both the people and the working party, that they will stay focused.

There are going to be many road-blocks along the way, and the PM showed his committment to his promise, by handling the GCC situation very decisively and very swiftly.

The people and the credible international community will feel very reassured that any obstacles will continue being cleared in an objective, and fair manner.

The GCC acted outside of their brief, when they used political arguments to reject the president's nomination, and they have received a very appropriate consequence.

Drau of Vitilevu bay (14 hours and 40 minutes ago)
Have we ever seen the former PM boycott any meeting with the military when the heat was on? Never, cool and calm. He finds a way to solve things and ends up being taken by force.

Hey people, it's not new for the current PM to boycott meetings. The prescription was given by the Labour MPs who always resorted to boycotts, walkouts and such. It's not new guys, next no meeting for the Methodist Chuch and no conference.

I only wish the UN would stop the army from going overseas; they should do something that hurts them below the belt.

Shave of Fiji (14 hours and 37 minutes ago)
It would have been easier if VB had instructed the President to put his name forward as VP - this would have saved the current charade, especially if behind closed doors the GCC was told that any refusal by them to endorse the nomination would mean a one way trip to the top field at QEB.

Unfortunately VB looks even more silly than previously. Frank, please turn off the lights as you leave the room.

3-legged pig of Fiji (14 hours and 34 minutes ago)
Freedom of Other: Frank represents no one ... if he did, he would be listening to input. As it is, he listens to no one, and therefore represents no one but himself and the odd-ball types like yourself who seem to like having your thoughts measured out to you by a dictator.

I never suggested the GCC was representative, but they are a constitutional body ... supposedly the same constitution that Frank swore to uphold when he claimed power on December 5th, and again when he took that illegal oath to become 'Prime Minister'

Sanjeet of Bulileka Labasa, Fiji (14 hours and 30 minutes ago)
The 'tit for tat' game has begun. This is Fijian politics at its best (or worst?). Let's see what happens next.

A smooth day of Get use to good governance people. (14 hours and 25 minutes ago)
Get used to good governance people. And hey, you might even enjoy the fruits at the end of the road-map.

The end of today was refreshing. I might even have a good sleep tonight.

I hope all road-blocks keep getting handled decisively, wisely, and swiftly.

Vobis of N.Z (14 hours and 17 minutes ago)
This is first clear indication that Frank Bainimarama's attitude towards this sad old institution is waning.

Although these chiefs represents 85% of land and people, their time and efforts are best spent caring for their people, and not dabbling in politics.

Unfortunately, the GCC have found themselves in predicament: a predicament that could see their demise.

Kailoma mai Savusavu of Australia (14 hours and 5 minutes ago)
Bainimarama is stabbing his own people in the back. The sooner he and the indigenous Fijians realise this, the better. Indians must be laughing aloud behind closed doors watching the Fijian people fight amongst themselves. The chiefs of Fiji need to stand up for their people once and for all before the very fabric that holds the Fijian people together is stamped into dust.

Les Buckley of Australia (14 hours and 5 minutes ago)
The sacking of the chiefs is the first move to true democracy in Fiji.

Also, the Bainimarama regime should set a date for free elections a year from now, stating that no former politician need apply or put themselves up for election. A whole new administration is needed; out with the old, in with the new.

Kai Tailevu of Fiji (14 hours and 3 minutes ago)
A big thank you to the GCC for a great stand.

Voreqe, now we know that you wanted to go by wishes of the VP choice. Very sorry, now suspending all meetings ... the chiefs have already made their stand: no more for the Mara clan.

Kubuna and Burebasaga will stand firm on their decision. Sorry to you and your other two illegal MPs: Nailatikau and Ganilau

Enough of your tactics. You are not a true kai Tailevu.

prayerwarrior of fiji (13 hours and 47 minutes ago)
I am sure all Fijians are shocked at Frank's latest move! Christians please kneel more to God, don't be concerned with circumstances; that is for God to handle. When we think God is quiet, he's working behind the scenes.

crooked of Nz (13 hours and 45 minutes ago)
This is dictatorship and it's going to be very interesting from now on. Let's keep the fire burning.

ceva ni lomai of france (13 hours and 41 minutes ago)
He wants everything done his way! What happened to doing it for the people? Fiji is headed for dictatorship if we let this continue ... it's a blessing we have chiefs who actually know right from wrong [Kubuna and Burebasaga] unlike my tau vu's from Tovata who are just plain fickle-minded.

Matai of Fiji (13 hours and 30 minutes ago)
Vinaka vakalevu to the GCC for stamping their mark on who really has the power in our beloved Fiji.

Frank might be running the country with his guns, but he'll soon realise who really has the power for the people. Its a pity that the 'Matanitu Tovata' supported the nomination for the VP.

I'm sure that this decision is influenced by certain individuals and not the whole Matanitu.

Frank really wants to be carefully now as he is now speaking against the chiefs of Fiji.

Good on the GCC.

Sa kua la na kana of Australia (13 hours and 27 minutes ago)
Davenport Larking: Are you out of your mind? You need to know more about Fiji's constitution before making any related comments. For your information the GCC did not act outside their brief. Their act was democratic and within the legal framework of the GCC's regulations.

Please don't talk on issues you know nothing about. Try doing some research/readings before opening your mouth.

Matai of Fiji (13 hours and 23 minutes ago)
It's obvious who's influencing the decisions on behalf of the Tovatas: I'm sure the people of Tovata would agree with the rest.

Frank really doesn't belong in politics and him suspending the GCC will definitely not move Fiji forward.

Poison Ivy of AUSTRALIA (13 hours and 13 minutes ago)
3-legged pig: I agree totally with your comments. VB has lost his brains again; he's not thinking of others, just thinking of himself and his followers.

Davenport-Larking of The Interim PM's announcement showed good governance. (13 hours and 12 minutes ago)
The GCC don't have any credibility with the majority, and certainly have no moral integrity, with regard to which governments to support.

Their brief was to liaise with the Fijian Affairs Minsters regarding Fijian Affairs. Rejecting the President's nomination based on political reasons, was outside of their brief.

Prime Minister Bainimarama, and the Ministers have limited time to ensure the road-map is achieved. The GCC received an appropriate consequence for acting outside of their brief.

The working party, the credible international community, and the people have been reassured that any and all road-blocks will be removed in a decisively swift manner.

Vesuki of Australia (13 hours and 7 minutes ago)
What did Frank think was going to happen?

Frank treats the GCC with contempt. Couple of months later he hands them a big stick and bends over. Then he complains when they spank him with it?

What an idiot.

Poison Ivy of AUSTRALIA (12 hours and 57 minutes ago)
Les Buckley: the GCC have always been apart of our culture, heritage, and country, and I am glad they stood up for what they believe in, making the right decision. As for VB and his merry men, and the illegal government, they should all go and jump, because they have nothing positive for Fiji.

Shave of Fiji (12 hours and 48 minutes ago)
To Davenport-Larking: the dictator VB did not show good governance, leadership or any other redeemable quality in his reaction to the GCC's rejection of his nomination of VP.

I didn't realise that you speak for the majority (or have any mandate to speak for them) to suggest that the GCC does not have any credibility with the majority or moral integrity in their rejection of this illegal regime.

I also suggest that you have no evidence to support your other contention that they rejected VBs nomination of Nailatikau based on political reasons.

If you and your other non-Fijian mates think that VB has a road map then I would further suggest that we are all in trouble because we have an outdated map being read by an unintelligent guide. Come back Idi Amin, all is forgiven.

the observer. of Other (12 hours and 45 minutes ago)
Let no one take away the your presence from rightfully shinning in its evident hour. Thank you for redeeming the fear of righteousness in the great council of chiefs.

Fiji is for its people, not a selfish bunch of monopolisers who want to form another kingdom of their own.

Fiji was a multi-kingdom and you all deserve a rightful chance to be in that position.

Epeli Ganilau: you are an illegal interim personnel ... give it up! Don't even try to threaten the council because the way you going will surely head for a not-so-pleasant future. Your nonsense is getting on peoples nerves, so is Bainimaramas.

You are threatening the security of the nation by threatening the chiefs. I just want to remind you to saddle your views and opinions.

Tamai of Australia (12 hours and 43 minutes ago)
Good on you Voreqe. About time the "chiefs" stop having free meals, hotel stays etc. The majority of chiefs not interested in the welfare of their own people. All they want are lease money - so the fight as to who is the rightful heir to the "throne".

Bobby of Sydney Australia (12 hours and 37 minutes ago)
The Great Council of Chiefs should be dismantled and Frank is the right man to do it. The GCC is an unrepresentative, impotent, incompetent, ice-age institution and the biggest hurdle to ordinary Fijians realising their full potential.

JAMES SINGH of AUSTRALIA (12 hours and 35 minutes ago)
Great Frank! I have been following with interest my beloved country's progress: the 'Clean-up' process, etc. GCC needed that too - and you've taken that on. History will be on your side. Keep the courage and determination and Fiji would be a better place in the future. You have the vision and foresight which had been sadly lacking in the past.

Hypocrisy Hater of Fiji (12 hours and 31 minutes ago)
Davenport: The GCC's brief is very clearly laid out in the constitution, and if you'd actually read that document, you'd know that you are talking complete rubbish when you go on about the GCC acting outside their brief!

In-case you are actually interested in improving your mind, here it is:

UdreUdre of Nakauvadra, Ra (12 hours and 25 minutes ago)
Dr Jim Anthony seems to be getting into a huff about the recent decision by the GCC. He goes on some long-winded explanations about certain members and the so called "past indiscretions of the council". Where do you stand Jim? This issue is fairly simple and straightforward, do you support the illegal takeover of December 5 or don't you?

The GCC as an organization is evolving with time in much the same way as every organization does, whether public or private. To say the GCC of today is the same GCC of 87 and 2000 is ridiculous and you for one should understand that better. That is not to say that the organization is free of corrupt individuals both within and outside attempting to manipulate their decisions. Which organization isn't?

A good example I am referring to is Ului Mara, head of 3FIR, and prominent coup instigator, who is using his chiefly status to represent Lau and to influence the decisions surrounding his boss's (Bainimarama) nominee of his uncles and partners in crime, Nailatikau and Ganilau. What we have just witnessed is a poorly disguised and insidious move by these illegal plotters to takeover the respected position of the VP. As ordinary citizens we should all be both concerned and congratulatory of the current members of the GCC for their stand in foiling the plans of these deceitful and unsavoury characters.

The Vanua rotation of Presidential candidates as agreed to by the GCC requires that the next person be of chiefly standing from Kubuna and to be free from the tentacles of criminal law. Nailatikau does not pass the criteria. From the perspective of a kai Kubuna, I cannot see how the vanua would endorse Nailatikau for three reasons I have spelt out in my previous post. There is no racial slant to it but fact.

mani lachmaiya of Londoni, Tailevu (12 hours and 5 minutes ago)
What constitution? The GCC and the people of Fiji need to get real! The only current constitution that exists in Fiji is the current government.

To: Hypocrisy hater of How come you support the GCC, if you are a hypocrisy hater: From Davenport-Larking (11 hours and 50 minutes ago)
The GCC made their position very very clear.

They were making a political statement, pure and simple.
They did not reject the President's nomination based on any objective critique of the nominee.

You read.

Sa kua la na kana of Australia (11 hours and 50 minutes ago)
mani lachmaiya, the current interim government is dictating the political and welfare of Fiji ... look around my dear friend, people have lost their jobs and pays have been cut, Fiji's economy is going down the drain, yet you support the current government?

They are illegal to begin with, they run the show as they wish since they have the backing of the army (dakai/guns)... for your information, the current government is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwanted. But rest assured, their days are numbered: soon and very soon we are going to see a twist.

atil Sharma of Australia (11 hours and 42 minutes ago)
Interim Prime Minister made the right choice. The GCC is a waste of money for the Government.

Hypocrisy Hater of Fiji (11 hours and 39 minutes ago)
Davenport: Since you seem unable to read or comprehend the resources provided above, Section 92(1) of the Constitution states:

"If the office of Vice-President becomes vacant, the President nominates for Vice-President another person who is eligible to become Vice-President and that person becomes Vice-President IF the nomination is supported by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga."

There are no qualifiers, or conditions attached, no set of criteria for the GCC to follow ... merely a requirement that the GCC/BLV approve of the nomination.

And let me remind you, Bainimarama is the one insisting on us all holding true to the 1997 Constitution and the rule of law. Who's the hypocrite now?

Davenport-Larking of Confidence is growing (11 hours and 37 minutes ago)
I go to sleep knowing that this government handled the GCC situation decisively and swifly. I go to sleep knowing that this government is committed to the road-map. I go to sleep knowing that national, and international confidence is growing as I sleep.

When the army was around the streets were safer, and the people felt safer, and the business/shop owners felt safer.

Tonight, I go to sleep feeling safer about the future.

Max of Fiji (11 hours and 35 minutes ago)
Why all the frustration from VB, Ganilau and the interim? What do they expect from the GCC? If the already have plans in their mind, why asking for GCC endorsement? While they know that everything they are doing is contrary to the wishes of majority of the chiefs and their people. VB and the interim you people can not hide the tipped scale.

Although, the GCC was viewed in certain circles as an electoral college, their involvement in the political arena actually uproots the very pillars of democracy. It has been said that, the interphase of GCC and Democracy inextricably fits the classic definition of an oxymoron.

The GCC was once a respected organization which represented the indigenous populace in Fiji, that respect evaporated rapidly when discourse within the institution often avoided addressing issues pertinent to grass roots segment of native extraction. Issues like solutions to native land has long been ignored by the GCC and the case history of Monasavu, Suvavou underlines that disconnect.

The decision by the GCC chairman to discuss the aspects of the December 5th events, follows the Ba Provincial Council's recent meeting to vote on the matter of the roadmap to democracy, which of actively goes against the grain of plans outlined by the Interim Government and as such, GCC was identified as a clear and present danger to the forward momentum of the state.
S.i.F.M actually applauds the suspension of GCC and in light of the heated debate, it actually proves that free speech is alive and well in Fiji. This discourse is now addressing the meat and potatoes of democratic ideals, long silenced due to the inherent inferiority complex.

This is the excerpt of a Fiji Village article:

GCC discuss December 5th takeover
By fijivillage
Apr 12, 2007, 17:41

Great Council of Chiefs Chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini has confirmed this afternoon that the high chiefs of Fiji discussed the December 5th takeover in the second day of the meeting today.

Ratu Ovini said he cannot divulge any details at this stage because a press statement is being prepared by the GCC Secretariat. He has also defended Ro Teimumu Kepa's appointment as the representative of Burebasaga confederacy saying there is nothing wrong with it as she is the head of the confederacy.

Ratu Ovini refused to comment on the statement by Fijian Affairs Minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau earlier today that he will look into the membership of the GCC after majority of the members rejected President, Iloilo's nomination for Vice President.

Ratu Epeli said he is responsible for the membership of the GCC and an option is available to them to look at appointing chiefs who want to move the country forward.

Earlier today Ratu Ovini Bokini said people have to accept what the members of the GCC decided in relation to President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo's nomination for Vice President yesterday.

Ratu Ovini, who had earlier called on all the chiefs to support the President's nomination to show unity in the council, said no one can overturn the decision. He said majority of the members did not agree with the Tui Vuda's nomination and that should be respected.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Will the Real International Community, Please Stand Up!

The term: international community can be misleading at times. Apparently, among one of the misuse of the expression, is the abuse of that definition by multi-lateral groups like the Commonwealth Group, to lobby a wayward nation back into their spheres of influence.

A recent proposal made by British Commonwealth General Secretary, Don McKinnon featured centrally in remarks made to Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee of the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington, reported by Radio Australia news article was in fact, a tongue in cheek retort. The Select Committee has compiled the terms of reference for an inquiry into New Zealand's relationships with South Pacific nations, in addition to inviting public submissions that may contribute to their findings.

This is an excerpt of the terms of references drawn up by the Select Committee:

To investigate the role New Zealand plays and can play in assisting Pacific Island Forum nations (excluding Australia) to develop sustainable economies, with particular attention to the following:

1.) Identifying New Zealand’s key interests and responsibilities in countries belonging to the Pacific Forum.

2.) Identifying strategic threats to New Zealand’s relationship with Pacific Forum members.

3.) Identifying opportunities to advance New Zealand’s relationships with governments and peoples in the Pacific Island Forum countries.

4.) Identifying current and potential actions to encourage sustainable economic development in, and two way trade with, Pacific Forum countries.

5.) Identifying the strategic objectives for expenditure of New Zealand Aid in Pacific Forum countries.

6.) Identifying the appropriate level and type of aid.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 25 May 2007.

This is the excerpt of McKinnon's comments to the Select Committee:

Calls for dialogue with Fiji leaders
Radio Australia
Last Updated 30/03/2007, 14:40:15

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon says it is time for politicians to stop criticising the leaders of last December's military coup in Fiji and begin talking to them.

Mr McKinnon reportedly made the comments to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee of the New Zealand [Parliament] in Wellington. He says dialogue must take place with the Fijian government if democracy is to be restored.

Mr McKinnon says that Fiji's army was too large for the country prior to the coup, and enjoyed too great an influence. It is three months since Commodore Frank Bainimarama was sworn in as interim prime minister in Suva, a month after leading the fourth coup in Fiji since 1987.

Subsequently, as a convenient way of using both the carrot and stick approach, Don McKinnon warned that Fiji would risk being suspended from the Commonwealth Group. This veiled threat by McKinnon was reported by Radio Australia's news article.

This is the excerpt from Radio Australia article:

Fiji warned may lose Commonwealth membership.

Fiji has been warned it may lose its Commonwealth membership if a realistic plan for elections to be held in two years is not ready soon. The Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon says failure to clearly define a time frame and procedures for the return to democracy will threaten Fiji's position.

Mr McKinnon is expected to send his top human rights adviser to Fiji for talks. Rabab Fatima will negotiate with interim regime officials including Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Archbishop Petero Mataca, and Human Rights Commissioner, Shamima Ali. Church officials and civil society groups could also be consulted during the visit.

News reports of the U.N General Secretary rebuking the request by Commonwealth Group's General Secretary, Don McKinnon, was a rather entertaining moment from Fiji's perspective.

This smack down of McKinnon's proposal for Fiji, was an overiding confirmation that, the Commonwealth Group is not and does not represent the International Community. The spiced-up dish of diplomatic back-stabbing, served by McKinnon to the U.N, may have put the Commonwealth Group and their General Secretary, back into their rightful positions-along the sidelines of world affairs.

This is the excerpt from International Herald Tribune article:

Commonwealth chief says UN rebuffed bid to stop employing Fiji peacekeepers

The Associated Press
Published: March 30, 2007

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The British Commonwealth asked the United Nations to stop using Fijian forces in the world body's peacekeeping missions because of last year's military coup in the Pacific nation but was rebuffed, the Commonwealth's chief said.

Don McKinnon, secretary general of the group representing Britain and its 52 current and former territories, said he raised the "ethical issue" of the United Nations paying hundreds of Fijian soldiers as peacekeepers in Iraq and elsewhere in recent weeks with new U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"Don, we need the peacekeepers, unquote," Ban had responded, McKinnon told The Associated Press late Thursday.

An official at the U.N. regional headquarters, in the Australian capital of Canberra, referred queries on the comment to U.N. headquarters in New York.

The Commonwealth suspended Fiji nine days after military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in a Dec. 5 bloodless coup. Bainimarama appointed an interim government with him at its head, and has said he may call elections to restore democracy in about three years. Some 300 Fiji peacekeepers guard the U.N. compound in Baghdad, and about 200 others are on U.N. peacekeeping duties in the Sinai.

Late last year, then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly deplored Fiji's coup in Fiji and demanded the immediate restoration of the country's elected government, and said the country's involvement in future peacekeeping missions could be in jeopardy.

But Fiji's existing U.N. deployments have remained in place.

Scoop, a New Zealand agency published an article using a correspondent on special assignment to New York. Selwyn Mannning's article summed up the lack of concern by the United Nations, in regards to Fiji's political situation; much to the dismay of these trans-Tasman nations, Australia and New Zealand, both disappointed that their overt lobbying may have unceremoniously revealed their lack of soft-power.

UN Conundrum Over 92 Fiji Soldiers For Operation
Sunday, 25 February 2007, 3:27 pm
Article: STATE OF IT by Selwyn Manning
UN Conundrum Over 92 More Fiji Soldiers For North Africa Peacekeeping Op


By Selwyn Manning – Scoop co-editor

Fiji's announcement that 92 soldiers from its army will be deployed to Sinai and Sudan has caused a flurry of activity at the United Nations in New York. But where exactly does the UN stand on post-coup Fiji? - Selwyn Manning reports from New York.

The United Nations secretary general's office here in New York was caught off-guard on hearing Fiji's Military had announced 92 more soldiers will soon be deployed to UN peacekeeping operations in Northern Africa - the bulk of these will go to Sinai, and the remaining six to Sudan.

The UN secretary general's spokesperson was asked on Friday (New York time) to clarify the UN's position on Fiji – considering the Pacific Island nation's military overthrew its government in December 2006. Former secretary general Kofi Annan had said at the time that there would be consequences for Fiji's military should it go ahead with a coup.

Newly appointed secretary general Ban Ki-moon's office sought time to clarify the announcement, later stating that no new deployment (with respect to Fiji) had taken place since the 2006 coup.

However the UN boss's office did not state that the report was incorrect. Neither did it specify whether a decision to deploy the 92 Fijian soldiers was already 'in the pipeline' prior to the December 2006 military coup.

But detail of the deployment - as released by the Fijian Military and published Friday on - was specific. Fiji's Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the first group to Sudan will consist of 42 soldiers and will leave on March 2 and the second group will leave at a later date.

Leweni told FijiLive the dates were not confirmed for the remaining six who are destined for the Sudan operation. The military spokesperson also told FijiLive Captain Penioni Naliva - the private secretary for Fiji's military Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama - will lead the Sudan mission.

The New Zealand government mission here at the United Nations has been applying pressure on the Secretary General's office to remain staunch against Fiji – at least until democracy is restored to the Pacific nation.

New Zealand was influential in shaping former secretary general, Kofi Annan's position in December when he warned there would be consequences should Fiji's military overthrow the elected Qarase multi-party government.

Annan warned that Fiji’s international standing, especially as a contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, could be jeopardized should the military conduct a coup. That statement was interpreted as meaning the UN would cut ties with Fiji, canceling its contribution of soldiers to peacekeeping operations.

Immediately prior to the December coup, Annan’s spokesperson said soldiers who take part in a coup d’etat, an unlawful seizure of power, would most likely be unwelcome in UN missions. Fiji at that time had 275 troops serving in UN peacekeeping operations.

Days earlier Annan emphasized that “Fiji’s international standing, which it has built carefully over the years, as an important contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and more recently as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission,” was at risk if the crisis was prolonged.

On January 8 the newly appointed Ban Ki-moon repeated Annan's call for the reinstatement of Fiji’s ‘legitimate authority’. On hearing from Scoop that Fiji had announced a renewed deployment of soldiers, New Zealand foreign affairs officials immediately sought clarification from the secretary general's office.

But difficulty remains, for all concerned, in determining exactly where the UN stands on post-coup Fiji.
A UN official, close to the security council, told Scoop on Friday evening (New York time) that the security council considers the 2006 Fiji coup as almost irrelevant – it is far away from New York and the coup hardly registers on the security council's radar, he said.

Clearly, the security council is more interested in keeping contributing nations on side. To ban Fiji from contributing soldiers to peacekeeping operations would go against the security council's needs, he said. And considering there will be a 30-40 percent increase in UN led operations in 2007 – the security council needs all the soldiers it can get.

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