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Fiji: President gives former PM new five-year mandate

One day after nullifying the constitution and appointing himself head of state, Fiji’s President swore in Commodore Voreqe Frank Bainimarama as the country’s Prime Minister.

It was Bainimarama who stepped down as Prime Minister Thursday, April 9 after a court ruled he had come to power illegally in a December 2006 coup that toppled the government of Laisenia Qarase. That day the judges also directed Fiji’s President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to appoint a caretaker government to lead the country into elections. However, Friday morning the President claimed he could not legally appoint a new government, so he abrogated the country’s constitution, fired the entire judiciary and proclaimed himself head of state. He promised to name a government that will rule until at least September 2014.

After being sworn in, Bainimarama re-appointed his former government, and he will now have executive authority with emergency powers. Bainimarama,who is the head of Fiji's military, said this five-year window will allow his government to modernize the country’s government systems, liberalize the economy and do away with corruption. Most of all, he’d like to create a post-racial Fiji.

Many countries that were less developed than us only a few decades ago are economically superior to us today. They have far less resources than us, they have much smaller land size than us yet we are nowhere near them.

Why? Because these countries have a national focus. Their politicians have put their respective countries ahead of their personal interests. They have built strong nations on the platform of equal citizenry, good decision making and absence of systemic corruption. They have been united.

I know we all have our different ethnicities, our different cultures and we should, we must, celebrate our diversity and richness. However, at the same time we are all Fijians. We are all equal citizens. We must all be loyal to Fiji; we must be patriotic; we must put Fiji first.

For Discombobulated Bubu, there is irony this constitutional issue took place over Easter weekend.

If one is looking for any positives, at least the charade and pretenses of the last 2 years have been ripped away from the white tomb stone, and the usurpers, judas's and stool pigeons can no longer hide behind the supposed righteousness of upholding all the right & proper edifices.

To make matters worse we held our collective breath in horror and covered our children's eyes when we saw the parade of rapists of freedom in Fiji at the swearing in ceremony on TV on Easter Saturday.

There was no veidokai [respect] in what they were doing.

Raising their hands and swearing on the holy book – each of them sounded and looked hollow, meaningless, shallow and hypocritical. Like Alice in Wonderland, all of them in a make-believe situation…. nothing real or true in this most sinister and futile of military maneuvers.

“Here we go again,” opines Intelligentsiya.

Well folks we’ve been down this road before. They self-appoint themselves again into seats of power but we knew that they never had the interests of this country at heart. The whispers are that [Former two-time coup leader and also elected Prime Minister Sitiveni]Rabuka will also re-surface as part of their “gang”. It was always about them. Not corruption, not equality, not good governance etc. It was all bullshit.

We now live under martial law no matter how they nice pitch it.

They are monitoring media outlets and are especially singling out foreign correspondents which means they are conscious of the international press they will generate. That means we need to be conscious that a lot of key news will be censored. Let’s hope that this will generate more bloggers as raised voices of dissent against this illegal military regime.

From Soli Vakasama.

The abrogation of the constitution by the sitting president is high treason. Its promulgation brings up another whole set of negative , alarming issues concerning the safety of our people, our way of life and human rights.

Are our laws still in place?

If so, who is upholding them for us.

We can’t have the military or the police acting as caretakers because they are the actual illegal regime that has been confirmed in the court of law on Thursday 9.4.09, so all of them should step down from whatever position they have usurped. In fact they should be herded and locked up, for the interim so there is no dispute about who will be responsible for the next five years in taking the Nation forward.

Iloilos pat on the back for Bhainimaramas ill conceived, illegal takeover of the last 27 months, and frank admission of his admiration for the stupid man and his antics is unbelievable. Whoever writes his speeches needs to be locked up as well.

However, some bloggers feel the court’s decision painted the President into a corner. “Leave aside for the moment the rights and wrongs of events of Friday 9th April 2009,” writes Crosbie Walsh in Fiji: The Way It Was, Is and Can Be. “[T]he Appeal Court's decision that the President's appointment of the Interim Government in 2007 was unlawful.”

First, what on earth did the court (and Qarase who had challenged the earlier High Court's decision that the Interim Government was lawful) expect? That an adverse decision would see the President comply with the Appeal Court ruling — which may yet be appealed? That Bainimarama, the military leaders and the Interim Government would abandon their 2006 takeover objectives and hand everything back to Qarase so that things would be just as they were before, bowing to the racial and religious extremism that had infiltrated the Qarase regime? Because that is exactly what a new election under the existing undemocratic and racially-skewed communal voting system would produce.

Abandon the work done on the People's Charter and the President's Political Dialogue Forum; a fairer electoral system; provision for tri-lingualism in schools and government offices, that could lead to a more tolerant and inclusive Fiji? Abandon work on the renewal of land leases, the sugar industry, rural infrastructure, the NLTB, fairer land rent returns to ordinary Fijians, a minimum wage, and the work on poverty reduction that could lead to a fairer, more equitable Fiji? Abandon work (that has proved exceedingly difficult due in part to the denied absence of overseas forensic accountant experts) to expose corruption and clientism at the highest levels, but which most surely benefits sections of the business and chiefly elite? Throw two and one-half years’ work, opposed at every turn by Qarase and others who could have cooperated had they really believed in democracy, into the old Lami rubbish tip?

It wasn’t just the court decision that created the problem, argues New Zealand journalist David Robie in his blog Cafe Pacific. Neighboring governments trying to bully into Fiji holding elections before the proper reforms could be set in place are also to blame.

THE FIGLEAF in Fiji has finally been ripped aside. Now we have an unashamedly naked military dictatorship back in power. Inevitable, of course, given the shortsighted Australian, New Zealand and Forum policies that had boxed an increasingly intransigent regime into a corner. But disappointing given that the recent political dialogue had been providing a glimmer of hope.

The Court of Appeal judgment was the final straw for the regime. The Easter “New Order” imposed by the ailing President Ratu Josefa Iloilo – ie. the regime old order back in a new guise – hasn’t flinched from its mission. Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama still clings to his pledge to change the country’s electoral system away from the flawed race-based system in place since independence (changed after the 1997 Constitution but with no real fundamental difference) and to end corruption.

In an argument on Fiji Board Exiles, real jack argues with fellow poster Gdevreal that while Fiji’s neighbors have reacted angrily to these moves, other of Fiji’s friends have remained calm.

don't worry gdev – the economy is not being destroyed. Fiji will not sink from this thing – we are not Zimbabwe. Australia and New Zealand can mount their sanctions and that would be unfortunate – but Fiji will have to go its own way – now that the way forward is CLEAR and the political issues are CLEARLY determined we can go back to Beijing and put it very clearly that FB's government is the government of the Fiji islands – stability is no longer an issue there because there are no more legal wrnaglings to deal with – and there is no instability.

the only guys talking here are the Kiwi's and Aussies – China hasn't spoken and neither has India nor any of the ASEAN countries. they understand our situation because they have been through similar upheavels throughout their history. its not new. we will have to revitalise and strengthen ties with Malaysia and Singapore – they are the big investors in this country at the moment. the Singaporeans own Denarau – whilst the Malaysians own the Carpenters group.

the only people who are saying this process is illegal are those who had affiliations with the [ruling party deposed in December 2006] SDL – guys who got jobs from the SDL – but thats to be expected – the rest of Fiji, on the other hand, are carrying on withtheir lives – paying their FNPF, paying their taxes, going to work, observing the laws, maintaing the peace – the rule of law is intact – society is functioning as normal. people are carrying on with their day to day lives.

if the Aussies and Kiwi's don't want to work with Fiji towards these reforms then that is unfortunate -but its not going to stop Fiji from having those reforms.

Gdevreal’s response:

Whats the matter Jack, you couldn't live up to your vow to uphold the constitution? You don't understand the role of a Constitution? Do you uphold commitments to anything in life?
First you were going to accept gross conflict of interest by changing the electoral system, voting in whoever, and then having them bless the system which voted them in. Are you too stupid to see the conflict of interest in that? Pathetic. And you call yourself a professional? You sound more like a 3 year old.
Well it does not matter much what your clowns do. I reckon People will just watch with amusement as they waste taxpayer funds doing a charade about a phony election. In the end, the People will take Fiji back and anything they don't like will be reversed. It is just such a horrible waste of time and resources that Fiji can ill afford.
By the way, who appointed Voreqe to play God with the People?

Reforms come from the People, Jack, not demented military leaders. I would imagine Mugabe called his bullshyt “reforms” too. Who asked for it? Who gave that azzhole in uniform a mandate to change anything in Fiji?

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