February 09, 2012

US Congressman vouches for Bainimarama's lies

American Samoan congressman Eni Faleomavaega has been a staunch advocate of Bainimarama and his antics. We can only hope that he knows what he's doing.

But the extent of Faleomavaega's loyalty in the face of repeated lies and shifting goal-posts from the illegal and treasonous Bainimarama and Sayed Khaiyum will all come to a head. Of that there is certainty.

We reproduce here an excerpt from hearings in 2007 of the US Congress's Committee on Foreign Affairs Sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment which Faleomavaega used to Chair.

It simply validates all opinions that the real reason despite all the blustering here and there, was really all about  Bainimarama's self-preservation.

Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA: ...We are all aware of the fact that there has been another military takeover of the Government of Fiji, I believe for the fourth time now since 1987. But for whatever reasons that Fiji has gone through this dilemma since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1970, the people and the leaders of Fiji over the years are still trying to work through such difficult times from its colonial past up to the present.

Fiji’s democracy has been tested as to whether the indigenous Fijians and the Indians who were brought over by the British years ago during its colonial rule of that island nation could work together hopefully, and by trying to resolve some of its most serious issues affecting the country’s economic, social, and political needs, despite the obvious differences in their cultures, ethnicities, and traditionalist social values.

It was my privilege to visit personally with the Interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, and members of the interim government’s cabinet. I want to submit for the record a copy of the letter I received from the Prime Minister, which outlines the scope and reasons that he and members of the Fiji’s military command, when they took over the government with the hope that in the year 2010, that new elections will be held for the leadership of that island nation in the South Pacific.

[The information referred to follows:]

19th February, 2007

Mr. Eni Faleomavaega
US Congress Representative for American Samoa 
American Samoa

Dear Sir,

Your Visit

It is my utmost pleasure to welcome you to our shores. My Government has agreed to engage fully with bilateral, regional and multilateral partners in our efforts to return Fiji to a truly democratic rule.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity this morning to have exchanged views with you on the underlying causes of December 5th takeover, and the steps we are taking to take Fiji forward. Should you require any further information, please donot hesitate to contact me.

Meanwhile please find attached some background information on the issues wecovered during our discussions this morning. 

Yours sincerely,

J. V. Bainimarama


In his statement on 5th December, Commander, Republic of Fiji Military Forces (CRFMF) Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said that the actions of the RFMF were precipitated by the impasse between the SDL Government and the RFMF. Some of the key reasons and issues that created and led to the impasse:

1. The persistent and deliberate involvement of persons supporting the unlawful takeover of Government in 2000 in the Qarase led SDL Government. This includes the Government after the 2001 and 2006 Elections;

2.The double standards of the SDL Government. On the one hand saying that they supported the law but on the other freeing or facilitating the freeing of coup convicts on extra-mural and/or compulsory supervision orders with unsubstantial reasons. These actions made a mockery of the justice system and fundamentally undermined the integrity of the judiciary and the ruleof law;

3. The continued appointment of those tainted by the events of 2000 to diplomatic and senior government positions;

4. The failure of the Police Force to investigate all the ‘shadowy figures’ behind the 2000 coup including Qarase who had requested me to remove the President. Despite this request the Police Force were determined to instead investigate me, my officers and the RFMF as a whole;

5. The politicization of the Prison services;

6. The regular visits by Government officials to Korovou Prison to meet prisoners who supported the illegal take over in 2000 and the mutiny. Some of these prisoners are accorded special treatment in prison and referred to as ‘cultural advisors’ to the prisoners;

7. The racist and inciteful speeches made by SDL parliamentarians which were never checked by Qarase. These speeches caused fear and tension in minority community and our society as a whole. We also noted with concernthe increased incidents of sacrilege aimed at minorities;

8. The repeated acts and incidents of Government and civil service corruption including SDL politicians. Those involved continued to be members of the Cabinet, those holding senior Government positions and civil servants;

9. The growing cycle of corruption, clientalism and cronyism also involved the extremely unhealthy influence of certain businessmen and women in the governmental decision making process;

10. The failure of the Qarase Government to pass any anti-corruption legislation in the past 5 years despite the growing and repeated acts of corruption which has undermined the very foundations of our civil service and institutions and the economy.

11. The determination by the Qarase led Government to pass acts of Parliament which would have inevitably increased indigenous Fijian nationalism, led to dispute between provinces—indigenous Fijians themselves, created ethnic tension, undermined the rule of law and the independence of constitutional offices including the Judiciary and compromised the right to fair hearing and representation. This refers in particular to the Reconciliation, Qoliqoli and Land Claims Tribunal Bills;

12. The exclusion of the RFMF from the National Security Council but repeated inclusion of the Police Force which indicated a refusal to hear the Military point of view on security and governance issues;

13. The manipulation of the criminal justice system for political reasons. The investigations against the CRFMF arose from a National Security Council decision and not from the independent decision of the Commissioner of Police himself.

14. The threat of and references to the use of regional forces and intervention by the Qarase Government to try and influence the resolution of our owninternal problems;

15. The threat of an Australian invasion as shown by the inciteful and hostile remarks made by Alexander Downer, the unexplained presence of an Australian Defense Helicopter within Fiji’s EEZ and the frequent references to the Biketawa Declaration made this threat a real one. Subsequent revelations confirmed this position.

16. The consideration of foreign intervention was viewed to be a serious threat to Fiji’s sovereignty and independence. It will always be resisted. Undersection 104 of the Constitution, the Prime Minister is to keep the President informed generally about issues relating to the governance of Fiji. He was never informed of this foreign presence.

17. On the Biketawa Declaration itself, the declaration states that the Government:
—Needs to be committed to good governance exercising authority in a manner that is open, transparent, accountable, participatory, consultative and decisive but fair and equitable;
—Ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief; and
—Must uphold the democratic processes and institutions which reflect national and local circumstances, including the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government. The Qarase Government had failed to adhere to many of these agreed principles of governance.

18. The repeated and persistent attempts to change the command structure at the RFMF since 2000 and the rewarding of those who have made those attempts.

19. Most seriously, the large Government deficit, the failure of the SDL Government to cut spending, the failure to revive the sugar industry, the failureto solve the land problem, the racist and selective education policies, the rapidly deteriorating public health services, the escalating poverty, the hike in interest rates, the lack of employment opportunities given the growing number of school leavers, the almost inevitable devaluation of the Fiji dollar, the neglect to increase our exports vis a vis our growing reliance on imports creating a critical balance of payments situation and the overall serious economic situation created by bad governance, mismanagement, corruption, disrespect for the rule of law and the undermining of democratic values since 2000.

20. The manner in which the 2006 Elections were conducted was characterized with discrepancies. The fact that no census was conducted before the Elections meant that serious breaches of the Constitution occurred, the fact that there were so many additional ballot papers printed for no good reason and the fact that unexplained procedures were adopted.

21. The fleeing from Suva of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and although it was only for a couple of days instilled a lack of confidence in the Government and negated claims that the Government was in fact in charge;

22. The untimely absence on leave of the Commissioner of Police at a crucial juncture in our country and his seemingly political bias was of grave concern.

23. Qarase and certain members of his Cabinet sought to incite certain members of our community to rebel against the RFMF and thereby did not have regard for the welfare and security of all our citizens and compromised national security.

24. On the morning of 5th December the President asked Qarase to come and see him and he refused to do so simply because he was fearful that the President would have asked him to resign or dismissed him. Clearly Qaraseas Prime Minister abdicated his responsibilities by refusing to listen to the President who is the Head of the State.

25. The President was prevented by some including the Vice President from exercising his constitutional powers. We were as a nation in a state of limbo.

The CRFMF accordingly stepped in and took over Executive Authority from the President under Doctrine of Necessity on 5th of December, to manage the affairs of the nation. He immediately issued an Emergency Decree and set up a Military Council to oversee the day-to-day governance of the nation. In this process of transition, there was no one hurt nor a single shot fired by the Military. It was a smooth transition and business continued as usual in the period which followed

Following return of Executive Authority to the President on Thursday 4th January, the President appointed an Interim Civilian Government and gave it the following mandate to fulfill

The mandate of the Interim Government is as follows:

—To continue to uphold the Constitution;
—Where necessary facilitate all legal protection and immunity, both criminaland civil, to the Commander, Officers and all members of the RFMF;
—Give effect to the actions of the RFMF including the respective suspension,dismissals and temporary removal from office of civil servants, Chief Executive Officer’s, those appointed by the Judicial Services and Constitutional Services Commissions, the Judiciary and Government appointed Boardmembers;
—Steady our economy through sustained economic growth and correct the economic mismanagement of the past six years;
—Lift up the living standards of the growing poor and underprivileged of our country;
—Restructure the Native Land Trust Board to ensure more benefits flow to the ordinary indigenous Fijians;
—Eradicate systemic corruption by including the setting up of an Anti-Corruption Unit through the Attorney General’s Office and set new standards of Governmental and institutional transparency;
—Improve our relations with our neighbours and the international community;
—Take our country to democratic elections after an advanced electoral officeand systems are in place and the political and economic conditions are conducive to the holding of such elections;
—Immediately as practicable introduce a Code of Conduct and Freedom of Information provisions; and
—Give paramountcy to national security and territorial integrity of Fiji.

The prospects for appropriate resolution lies within the context of President’smandate and the effective fulfillment thereof.

Restoration of parliamentary Democracy in Fiji will require the holding of ageneral election. For Fiji’s next general election to be free and fair, there areseveral important requirements that must be fulfilled. These include the following:

i) The holding of a National Census for Fiji. This census was postponed to 2007 by the previous government when it called for an early general election in 2006. Without the holding of the census, a general election was held instead and this caused many to question the validity of the rolls of voters that were prepared for the election that was held.
ii) The Census outcome will provide the precise population count and the demographic spread around country. This will in turn assist the Constituencies and Boundaries Commission to be able to determine the new boundaries for each constituency.
iii) With the new constituencies determined, voter registration will have to be undertaken nationwide. This will be a major exercise. Based on the experience in the lead up to the 2006 general election, this is one area that was highlighted by the Commonwealth Election Observer Group that needed improvement in any future election. Associated with this adequate resourcing to carry our voter registration properly and fairly.
iv) Voter education is vital to ensuring that voters are not disenfranchised because of their inability to understand the electoral system we operated in Fiji.
v) Election Office capacity building another major requirement. There is need for improving the holding of polling by reducing the number of days for actual polling. The other major is issue relates to the postal ballot arrangements.
vi) The issue of incumbency and how to protect against it to ensure a fair election must be addressed. This may call for a Code of Conduct for candidates in a general election to be promulgated.

The US Congress Representative for American Samoa could play the following role in assisting Fiji in restoration of democracy:
—Persuade US Government to re-engage with Fiji to better understand our situation,
—USA, Australia and New Zealand to remove all sanctions gradually, starting immediately with travel ban imposed on military personnel, Interim Ministers, Civil Servants and civilians,
—USA, Australia and New Zealand to resume developmental assistance,
—US Government to continue to support Fiji in UN; and,
—USA, Australia and New Zealand to consider a package of assistance to facilitate accomplishments of the milestones specified in the roadmap for restoration of democracy.

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