BRIEF: Rabuka Wants 2011 Elections

SUVA, Fiji – Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, leader of Fiji’s two 1987 military coups, says he wants Fiji elections to be held in 2011.  He believes the interim government should ignore the Commonwealth’s order to hold elections by September.

Mr. Rabuka also says the constitutional and electoral reforms proposed by the interim government can only be made by the Parliament and the reforms should be put to the people of Fiji in a referendum.  He explained, “In that way we do not change the constitution unconstitutionally, and we leave it to parliament to make the changes that the interim government feels it should have supported or not supported in the referendum of 2011.”

Describing why 2011 is an ideal year for elections, Mr. Rabuka said, “In my opinion, the best time to have elections would be 2011, as that would be five years after the interim Government came into power.  And normally, we give a tiem frame of five years for the new government and budget cycle to work.”

For more information, please see:

Islands Business – Ignore Commonwealth deadline, elections best held in 2011: Rabuka – 18 March 2009

Radio Australia – Former Fiji PM wants 2011 elections – 19 March 2009

Coalition of Six Political Parties Back Interim Government in Fiji

By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – A new council made up of six political parties met in Suva to express support for the interim government to hold elections in 2011.  The council is called the Peoples Movement for Political Reform (PEMPOR) and is demanding that Australia and New Zealand withdraw sanctions against Fiji.  PEMPOR also proposes elections be held only for the right reasons and not due to threats of isolation, they also call for respect for the integrity of the judicial system in Fiji.

The parties involved in PEMPOR are the General Voters Party, the Conservative Alliance / Matanitu Vanua Party, the Justice & Freedom Party, the National Allicance Party, the Party of National Unity, and Soqosoqo Ni Vakavulewa Ni Taukei.  The chair of the meeting, John Sanday of the General Voters Party, said Fiji People’s Party General Secretary, Charan Jeath Sing also indicated his support.

Sanday said, “We are formed to support the Presidential Dialogue Forum, and we will work with the interim Prime Minister to move the country forward and help restore democracy in Fiji.”  The council said that general elections could be held in three years because the country needs time to make their operations “clean and transparent.”

Sanday added, “Fiji has a legitimate Government and elections should not be held with guns held to our heads and comply with the threat to do it their way or be suspended from certain groups.”

PEMPOR expects five more parties to join and plans to hold a meeting with the interim government to discuss ways to help move the country forward.  PEMPOR secretary Meli Bogileka said the members highlighted the fact that major political parties were working towards their own agenda.

For more information, please see:

Fiji Times – Parties criticise move to suspend Fiji – 15 December 2008

Pacific Magazine – New Political Coalition Backs Fiji Elections in 2011 – 14 December 2008

Fijilive – Political parties back 2011 poll – 13 December 2008

Smith Says Way is Clear for Fiji Elections; Media Shocked at Creation of Media Tribunal; People’s Charter Draft Ready End of July, Samy Says

By Ryan L. Maness
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania

SYDNEY, Australia — Fiji’s Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been consistent in the past months in his view that social and political reforms were needed before any democratic elections can take place.  This view was directly challenged this week as the Pacific Island Forum concluded talks with Fiji’s leaders and Stephen Smith, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said that there is no justification for any delay in Fiji’s people going to the polls next March.

According to Smith, Bainimarama has gone back on the promise election promise that he made to the Pacific Island Forum last year.  With ample time and a stable environment, there is no reason to postpone elections, Smith said.  “There is nothing that we have seen or heard which would stand in the way of that occurring, provided that there is the political will. The political will in the first instance, primarily if not exclusively from the interim government, but also the political dialogue which ensues between the political players in Fiji which we both encourage and welcome.”

For more information, please see:
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited — Smith criticized delay in Fiji elections — 20 July 2008

Fiji Times — No justification for poll postponement: Smith — 20 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Forum ministers see no impediment to March elections in Fiji — 16 July 2008


SUVA, Fiji –– The interim government of Fiji’s stance towards the media has sparked the ire of the country’s Media Council and particularly its chairman, Daryl Tarte.  Tarte is concerned about the perceived differences between what the Council was told by interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and what the interim government has actually done.  Addressing the Council, the interim AG said that existing media lalws would be consolidated into one piece of overarching legislation, but a day later the interim government announced that it would create a tribunal to hear appeals on grievances lodged with the Media Council.

The interim government defends its action, saying that there is nothing new in the consolidation of laws.  He also reiterated the government’s previously stated stance that, “We do not want to control the media or the content of the media by licensing it.”

Tarte, however, sees things differently.  He is upset by the fact that there are discrepencies between interim government’s words and their actions.  “At the media council meeting on Wednesday, the interim attorney general was invited to talk to council members about the Government’s-media relationship, and he cateorically stated the government did not intend introducing any form of legislation. The very next day it is announced that government are going to impose legislation.”  Fiji Times also reports that he has expressed his fear that, along with the hearing appeals, the tribunal would set codes of conduct and exact fines.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand News — Fears Fiji tribunal will undermine media — 19 July 2008

Fiji Daily Post News — Media council wants their views heard — 19 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Fiji media council stunned by interim regime’s regulation — 18 July 2008

Fiji Times — State move on media shocks council head — 18 July 2008

SUVA, Fiji — The a draft of the interim government’s much touted People’s Charter should be finished by the end of the month, says the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.  The chairman of the Council, John Samy, said that the time line for getting the the Charter out was accelerated so as not to interfere with  possible elections next year.

Along with the Charter Samy announced that a State of the Nation report would also be released as well as an economic report. During the announcement, which was delivered to an applauding crowd of the NCBBF, he said, “Not all provincial councils are against the idea of the Charter, in fact below the provincial council, at village and grassroot level, the response we are getting is broad based support.”

For more information, please see:
Fijilive — Draft People’s Charter to be out soon — 15 July 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Draft Fiji People’s Charter expected to be complete by end of this month — 14 July 2008