February 20, 2007

Pacific Forum Eminent Persons' Group report on Fiji

Intelligentsiya has obtained a complete copy of the confidential report by the Forum Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) on Fiji’s political crisis, in which it called for the lifting of the state of emergency and the appointment of a civilian prime minister.

The report is marked “For Forum Eyes Only” and “Confidential” and is supposed to have been presented to the Forum Foreign Affairs Ministers when it meets next.

To download the report, click here (PDF 710kb)

The report will be discussed by the Forum Council of Ministers before it is released officially.

The report says the majority of those people the group consulted did not agree with the grounds on which Bainimarama seized power and his interpretation of the doctrine of necessity.

The EPG highlighted suggestions that elections could be held with 15 months and two years.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission’s ability to fulfill its mandate, the EPG heard, was “undermined by internal disputes and politicisation”. The EPG said because New Zealand had suspended funding, the commission would be entirely dependent on state funding thereby opening it up to the “possibility of political interference”.

Today, Bainimarama said in a statement that his office would not comment on the report as a “matter of policy, procedure and protocol.”

“The Pacific Island Forum Secretariat was the implementing agency for the visit of the EPG and co-ordination of Report preparation. It is only proper that the (Forum Foreign Affairs Ministers) get to consider the Report first. The Interim Government will let its position on the Report known directly to FFAM.”

The director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, however, condemned the report saying the observation were not put to the acting chairman Rodney Acraman and the deputy director Kitione Radrodro first when they appeared before the EPG.

Reactions to EPG report:
  • Dr Shaista Shameem lambasts the report and accuses the one of its members of conflict of interest: See FijiVillage report. Another take on Shameem's reaction (it appears she sent out a press release) is over on Fiji Times Online.
  • The Fijian wing of the Fiji Labour Party has a rather colour description of the report. Its secretary Maika Moroca labels it "rubbish" and says the EPG can "go to hell". See Fiji Times online report.


Meanwhile, in other news today…

Investigator in military custody

The military has confirmed it continues to hold in detention a senior detective who was involved in investigating the 2000 coup and mutiny – and who had been investigating the latest coup.

Acting director of the Criminal Investigation Department Waisea Tabakau has been in custody since his arbitrary arrest last Friday (February 16).

While it was being widely reported on radio during the day (attributed to Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti) that Tabakau was being held because he had been investigating the commander over the deaths of five Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers after the November 2, 2000 mutiny, the army’s spokesman Major Neumi Leweni told Fiji TV’s main evening bulletin that he could not confirm why Tabakau was being held.

Driti told Legend FM they were looking for other police officers who had been investigating the military for its overthrow of the Laisenia Qarase government on December 5, 2006. He said the officers should not be investigating them because they had already been granted immunity by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

SDL lawyer’s car vandalised

It may be a total coincidence, but police are searching for three men who damaged a vehicle belonging to the lawyer bringing a case on behalf of the ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) government against Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Tevita Fa was awoken in the early hours of this morning to the sound of a breaking windscreen and while security guards gave chase, they were unable to catch the culprits.

Meanwhile, the military-backed acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates will preside over the case in which Qarase and other claimants are seeking several declarations from the High Court that the overthrow was illegal, among other things.

Digitaki and other activists deny illegal protest charge

Business woman Laisa Digitaki came out of hiding on Monday to face the court on charges of unlawful procession for protesting outside the venue of the Great Council of Chiefs’ meeting in December calling for a return to democracy.

Digitaki and the other four, Jacklyn Koroi, Pita Waqavonovono, Unaisi Dimaru and Tura Lewai, all pleaded not guilty to the charge when they appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court. A hearing has been set for June 2.

And in case you missed it (or couldn’t believe your ears):

Senior army officer educates students in the gentle art of military persuasion

Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Drita made this comment (broadcast on Legend FM) in a speech at the Rishikul Sanatan College’s prefect induction ceremony on Monday:

“In the military we have a very common definition of leadership. It says it is the art of influencing and directing people to achieve willingly the team or organizational goal. That clearly shows that you don’t have to be forceful and be a tyrant or a dictator, you don’t have to be feared, you don’t have to see that you are forcing those under your special authority to do things that you, on behalf of the institution, want done.”

Fair enough. But Intelligentsiya is keen to ask what happened to that “art of leadership” in early December to prompt an overthrow of the government at gunpoint.


nomorecoups said...

Why does Rishikul Sanatan College think it fit to teach their student leaders the art of agressive leadership? That school once held regular leadership training for school prefects from schools around the country - teaching amongst other things - to lead by example?
Is agression and the use of weapons now the style of leadership favoured by the school?
I suppose the fact that its principle was an unsuccessful elections candidate answers my own question for me. So sad what this has come to.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Rishikul teachers who suggested Pita driti for the role should now ask him what happened to the gentle art of military persuasion in the case of the now famous nabua round-about and the Nivis car company?