January 26, 2009

What Frank was going to say in Niue

A quick web search revealed this telling prepped statement for Frank Bainimarama. By the looks of it, it lends support to the notion that the decision not to attend the PIF meeting last year was made at the 11th hour.

There is no doubt that the IIAG’s presentation tomorrow in PNG will sing the same tune but with minor edits in place justifying the courts legimitization of the coup and the so-calledacceptance” of 90-something percent of the populace of the Charter.

In other words, more Lies to the PIF Leaders.

Nonetheless we’ve given it the Intelligentsiya Seal at the end:

Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama,
(Interim) Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change, Information, Provincial Development and Multi-ethnic Affairs and Indigenous Affairs
Statement by Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji - PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM - NIUE
Alofi, NIUE

18th August, 2008

Your Excellency, the Chairman of the Pacific Forum of Leaders;
Excellency Prime Minister of our Host Nation, Niue
Leaders of the Forum Countries;
Your Excellency Mr Kamalesh Sharma,
Secretary General of the Commonwealth;
Ministers, Officials, Observers;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am honoured once again to lead my delegation to the Forum Heads of Government Meeting as the Interim Prime Minister of Fiji. I am also very pleased at the opportunity to visit this beautiful island State of Niue as host of this meeting. I bring greetings, and good wishes to the people of Niue from my island country of Fiji.

Mr. Chairman, you have received from the Forum Foreign Ministers Contact Group its Report on the situation in Fiji and my Governments response to that Report. You have also received from me, the draft Peoples Charter and an Executive Summary of the State of the Nation and the Economy Report on Fiji. These are the products of the extensive, consultative work of most of our leaders and our own people in Fiji, facilitated through the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF).

The NCBBF, through its 3 National Task Teams and the 9 Working Groups involving over 200 people namely from the non-government sectors, together with feedback obtained from consultations with over 1000 villages and settlements across the country, made a comprehensive assessment of our situation in Fiji, in terms of the deep-seated problems we are facing, and how we propose to resolve them in the short and long term. This huge nation-wide effort represents our own way forward in Fiji, to restore as well as to ensure the endurance of Constitutional democracy. We believe this alternative way forward will serve our country better over the long term.

These Way Forward documents are being subjected to further dialogue and consultation across the country at the grassroots level, so that, in the final form in which these will be presented to the President in October and also the Presidents Dialogue Forum, it is anticipated that they will reflect the will of the great majority of our people.

Mr. Chairman, the last Meeting of the Pacific Forum, in Nukualofa in 2007, had noted the importance of this initiative so you know that we had not initiated the work of the NCBBF merely to evade an election in March, 2009. This comprehensive road map for rebuilding the economic, social and democratic foundation of our country will be owned by the great majority of Fijis people. They will be asked to indicate their support or their opposition to the Peoples Charter in the national consultation process that has been launched. This activity is real grassroots democracy at work in Fiji.

Mr. Chairman, Fijis relationship with the Pacific Forum is now at an impasse, if not a cross-roads. The Forum is inflexibly insistent in its demand that a General Election be held in Fiji in March 2009, come what may. The commitment to the March 09 date was the position that I was compelled, against my will, to agree to at the last Forum Meeting in Tonga. This commitment has now acquired a life of its own.

We believe the General Election must be held as soon as practicably possible but only after we have achieved broad consensus in Fiji for a non-racial and truly democratic electoral system and agreed on a Constitutional and legal way to introduce it. It is being proposed that we need to change our electoral system, that there is a compelling case for us in Fiji to do this, in order to have democracy in Fiji. We have proposed the Presidents Dialogue Forum and invited the Commonwealth and United Nations joint assistance to independently facilitate this dialogue.

With reference to their discussions with the Commonwealth Envoy, Sir. Paul Reeves, the Report of the Forum Foreign Ministers Contact Group doubts that there can be agreement to a truly independent and inclusive political dialogue. I must ask why there is this doubt! We proposed to include all registered political parties in the Presidents Dialogue Forum; we would even favour a much broader Dialogue Forum to include the members of the NCBBF and other stakeholders that have not yet been included in that proposed independent consultation process.

The ball is now in the court of the Commonwealth Envoy, Sir. Paul Reeves who recently visited Fiji, to give us his proposed draft terms of reference, so that we can make the Presidents Dialogue Forum as nationally representative and get it underway as soon as possible. After all, we will be discussing the future of Fiji as a nation, not just the short- term desire of a number of politicians who are only interested in their short political careers which are not in the national interest.

Mr. Chairman, the Interim Government is in firm and effective control of Fiji. The issue of legality of the removal of the Qarase Government is still before the Courts. We have done our best to have a true basis for sincere and objective dialogue with the other political parties in Fiji that the Pacific Forum has decided to support through the proposed resolutions in the MCG Report.

The political parties and others in Fiji who are opposed to the interim Government, with the kind of support they have been getting from Australia and New Zealand, have on the basis of that rejected the draft Peoples Charter and have even called for the postponement of the Presidents Dialogue Forum to after March 2009. So I ask how sincere were they when they told the Foreign Ministers Contact Group that they were willing to come to the dialogue table, to discuss electoral and other reforms in the proposed Presidents Dialogue Forum?

Those who are behind the hard line stance taken against Fiji, who insist that an Election be held in March 09, are not really interested in helping the people of Fiji to deal with the problems that were exacerbated by the very politicians that the metropolitan countries in our Forum hope will regain power in Fiji should an election be held in March 09. These parties including Qarases SDL Party had rejected the 1997 Constitution when they were unconstitutionally and corruptly elected in September 2001.

Mr. Chairman, and Honourable Members of the Pacific Forum, forgive me that I now go back into some forgotten aspects of our recent history in Fiji because they are relevant to the relationship between Fiji and the Pacific Forum and the attitude that some members of the Forum have taken in regard to the situation in Fiji. New Zealand and Australia, against the judgment of their own senior judges who sat on the Fiji Court of Appeal in the Chandrika Prasad case, helped organise an illegal election that put in power the very people who are now hypocritically posing as supporters and defenders of the 1997 Constitution.

Those politicians, who come into power illegally, corruptly spent about $20 million of public funds to fund their Election campaign in 2001. On that occasion too, Laisenia Qarase had lied to the Court of Appeal that his Interim government would implement its judgement. It meant they should have resigned in March, 2001. They also promised their extreme ethno-nationalist supporters to introduce a new Constitution after the 2001 Election.

Between 2001 and 2006, the Qarase government defied the 1997 Constitution and refused to form a government with the Fiji Labour Party, as required by Section 99 of the Constitution. It chose, as its partner in Government, George Speights Party, the CAMV. After a Court decision, Laisenia Qarase made a mockery of the concept of multi-party government by proposing a Cabinet of 36 members and allocating ministerial positions with no responsibilities to the main opposition party, the Fiji Labour Party. That was his way of again, cynically, to evade the Judgement of the Court because the FLP declined such a humiliating offer.

After the 2006 Election, the SDL leader Qarase formed a multi-party government only because I was insisting that he must in compliance with our Constitution. But then, he refused to draw up an agreement on rules for how the multi-party government would run. Inevitably that Coalition government was headed for ultimate break-up, this not withstanding Mr, Winston Peters belief that he could have saved it with NZAID good governance programmes.

Some in our Forum family, unfortunately, support people who pursue extremist ethno-nationalist policies that will take Fiji down the road to destruction. I had, reluctantly, removed those extreme elements before they did more damage to the national interest of Fiji. Now, in the wake of all this, one of our opponents in Fiji has labeled me and the RFMF as hard line pro-Indian. Such racism, and this type of leaders, have no place in our vision for a better Fiji.

This MCG Report is not concerned with the problems we are trying to grapple with in Fiji, that stem from the 1987, and 2000 coups and the illegal Election in 2001 that Australia and New Zealand supported.

We regret the fact that the MCG, and some of its members in particular, had not come to Fiji to actively listen to those who are genuinely concerned with long term solutions to Fijis problems. Instead, some in the MCG such as Minister Winston Peters in particular, engaged in selective listening i.e. giving undue credence to politicians in Fiji with short term interest to get back into Parliament, and power. For those of you have who read the draft Peoples Charter, can you tell me what is wrong with it? What is wrong with having this as the basis of dialogue at the Presidents Dialogue Forum?

Mr. Chairman, Foreign Minister Winston Peters of New Zealand is one who has been willfully engaging in selective rather than active listening. After two days in Suva, he said that 85% of the people of Fiji want an Election in March 2009. On what legitimate basis could he made such a claim? He has, last week, further claimed on Radio Australia that the Peoples Charter will not stop future coups and that it will marginalize the indigenous Fijians. These ethnically prejudiced and parochial statements, we believe undermine the serious and genuine efforts we are making to take Fiji forward. We wonder why Minister Peters has continued to take such a dogmatic, hostile and uncooperative attitude towards Fiji.

Should this Forum, without reservation, endorse the MCG Report, then I am sorry to say we have reached the end of the road for Fiji to get genuine understanding of its situation and support for what we are trying to do to take Fiji forward. If, at the end of this meeting in Niue, the Forum will continue to insist on the Election being held in March 2009, then I will be compelled to return to Fiji to tell the people of my country that they must now be prepared to suffer more sanctions, and international isolation, as we pursue our own way in Fiji to return to a better, and durable democracy based on genuine national consensus and reconciliation.

We will decide what is in our national interest at this juncture in our history as an independent and a sovereign nation. If we have to, we will seek assistance from outside the Pacific Forum and the Commonwealth. It is imperative that we now rebuild our nation on a firmer foundation. We urge you, our Forum family, to assist us if you possibly can but we insist that you do not undermine our efforts, dominated by the stance taken by our metropolitan members.

I reiterate, again at the risk of being trivialised by people in this Forum such as the NZ PM that we are committed to having a General Election in Fiji under a fair electoral system based on equality, ethnic integration, tolerance and co-operation between our communities. We need an electoral system based on a common roll and equal value for all voters. Such a system had never been advocated, and is unlikely to be supported, by those who want to be empowered to continue to be elected under a racial and unfair electoral system. This Forum can ill afford to mollycoddle continued extremism and racism in Fiji.

We will not any longer tolerate the racist, divisive, undemocratic and unfair electoral system under which Qarase and his group want to be re-elected. We will hold the Election as soon as possible, and we need the Pacific Forum to support the process we are following. However, should you not be able to extend your support, we will carry on with the road map to which we are committed.

I wish to thank the Government and the people of Niue for your generous hospitality. I know it is a challenge to host such a large gathering of Leaders, Ministers, Senior Officials of relevant international organisations. You have met this challenge admirably.

A warm thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.


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