October 25, 2012

Rabuka has doubts about 2014 Fiji elections

Last updated 12:24 19/10/2012

Democracy in Fiji rests on a fragile election that may not happen, former Fijian Prime Minister and coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka says.

If elections do not go ahead, Prime Minister and coup leader Frank Bainimarama, who is not a member of any political party, will remain in power, he said.

Rabuka, who was speaking to gathered academics at the Democracy in the Pacific conference at the University of Canterbury this morning, voiced concerns about the promised 2014 elections - the first democratic elections since Bainimarama sized power in a 2006 military coup.

''I have not seen Mr Bainimarama move in a civilian political party organisation direction, so I don't know whether he will have a party or will join one,'' he said.

''I don't know whether we will have everything in place for the 2014 elections. Whether we can meet all the deadlines and steps remains to be seen. There are still so many detractors but the programme is in place."

While he said he hoped the elections would go ahead, he said "that hope is not based on very good grounds".

"When we talk about democracy in the Pacific, one size does not fit all. Military has always had a presence in the Fiji culture. We think of militant ways of changing things, rather than waiting for the next elections.

"It may be that we have corporate cooperation in 2014 where together the government and the military keep tabs on our civil military relations to prevent things from breaking down again, as it has happened many times in Fiji.''

Rabuka said he did not expect any future coups, given Bainimarama's powerful grip on the island nation.

''I can't see why there should be another coup, whether there be should be anybody or another group powerful enough to execute something to counter Frank's (coup).''

Rabuka said he visited the deconstruction this week of Christchurch's Queen Elizabeth II Park, the venue for the 1974 Commonwealth Games where he was a decathlete and captain of the Fiji team. He passed on his sympathy to the people of Christchurch because of the earthquakes.

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