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Interim administration 'in bid to cling to power'

FIJI: Interim administration 'in bid to cling to power'

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/ USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/archive/coup.html
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SUVA: The global community can see through Fiji's military-backed interim administration - perceiving it to be a group of people trying to control political power for a long time, says an outspoken political commentator.

Writing the "Politics Today" column in the Daily Post, constitutional advocate Jone Dakuvula condemned the threats of another military inspired uprising and a coup organised by the "same people in the interim government who had orchestrated George Speight's coup".

This "coup" could happen if the cabinet was compelled to resign in favour of a government of national unity.

Interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase faced critical responses to his appeals for "greater understanding" at the United Nations and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in New York at the weekend.

The CMAG rejected his two-year timetable for a return to democracy and considered his administration illegitimate and lacking credibility.

Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth a month after the May 19 coup, the third since 1987.

Members of the European Parliament have called for tough economic sanctions unless democratic rule is restored by November.

Deposed elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry's government members were held hostage for 56 days, but after their release Qarase's appointment was confirmed by military authorities on July 28.

Writing about his recent international tour in the Daily Post column, Dakuvula said Australia and New Zealand had told Fiji's interim foreign minister Kaliopate Tavola that the deposed government should be restored - meaning that the interim administration should resign in favour of a government formed by members of the elected Parliament.

"That is what needs to be done for restoration of normality in international relations. Mr Tavola and his colleagues say that [New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil] Goff and [Australian Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer are asking for another military inspired uprising and coup that will be organised by the same people in the 'interim government' who had orchestrated George Speight's coup if the current cabinet is compelled to resign," wrote Davuvula.

"The interim cabinet still argues that Goff and Downer, and indeed the whole world, do not understand the situation we have here.

"They say they need two years to bring in another constitution. They have not been able to convince the majority of the people in Fiji of this so what chance has Mr Qarase of convincing CMAG and the United Nations?

"The interim cabinet says they must remain in power to provide political stability and prevent possible violent reactions from Fijian nationalists and the Fiji Military Forces.

"I have just returned from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand where I met the top foreign advisers of these governments and officers of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. I found them to be very well-informed about Fiji," wrote Dakuvula.

"They do have a realistic understanding of the situation here. They told me, for example, that they understand Qarase's cabinet was not an 'interim government' but a group of people with long-term political ambitions to stay in power for a very long time."

Dakuvula wrote that the Qarase cabinet's insistence on writing a constitution over a two-year period was "merely an attempt to buy time so that an electoral system can be drawn that is even more heavily weighted in favour of indigenous Fijians".

According to Qarase, 82 percent of the seats in Parliament could be allocated to Fijians because they owned that much land.

This was an interesting concept of limited parliamentary government which had gone out of favour in the 19th century, Dakuvula wrote.

One problem, he argued, was that those who were responsible for the coup "may have too much pride and lack of foresight to see that there is more honour in doing what is right and just".

+++niuswire

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