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"We Need Prayers" - Regime

"We Need Prayers" - Regime

Issue No: 94; 8 October 2000

The Qarase regime dedicated the Independence anniversary day to prayers. Independence day falls on 10 October; the public holiday marking this day is today 8 October.

The full text of a half page paid advertisement by the regime in today's Fiji Times (8 Oct), declaring 8 October a National Day of Prayer, reads:

"We've been through a crisis. We've lost our jobs. We've taken a pay-cut. We've been hurt. We want to live better days. We want to live better lives. We need prayers".

One commentator at a prayer gathering today made a telling comment: "With Qarase and his ministers themselves participating and perpetuating division and hatred in Fiji, prayers are all that they have got left".

Last year, after a lapse of 13 years, the government had nationwide celebrations marking the Independence Day. The Peoples Coalition Government had planned a much more elaborate program this year than what it had organised last year.

END

8 October 2000

Australia Accepts Qarase Plan: Regime

Issue No: 93; 8 October 2000

The interim regime announced that Australia has accepted Qarase's plan for elections in 2 years from July this year.

Addressing its Constitution Commission on Friday 6 October, Qarase said:

"You will be pleased to know that even the Government of Australia now accepts the need to be realistic about the political situation. It has communicated that it would be happy with an overall time frame of eighteen months for Fiji's return to constitutional democracy.

"Our commitment then, as the interim administration is to return Fiji to Constitutional democracy within two years from July this year, or eighteen months from October this year"

It is not clear whether this is so, but so far, the Peoples Coalition has not been informed by the Australian Government of any change in Australian government's position.

END

8 October 2000

Constitution Commission Member Profiles

Issue No: 92; 7 October 2000

Ravuvu was a member of the team which drew up the highly feudalistic and racist 1990 Constitution, which was widely condemned nationally and internationally. He also contested the last (1999) election as a VLV candidate and lost. After the 1987 coups, he had written a book "The Façade of Democracy" which championed indigenous Fijian supremacy in the country. His name was also proposed by the terrorist George Speight for the Constitution Review Committee. In a statement published in the Daily Post of 2 Sept, Ravuvu is quoted as saying:

"The 1990 Constitution simply safeguards the indigenous rights and values and the 1997 was aimed at bringing the two major races together, which may be described as an exercise in political idealism. And for anyone to believe that any Constitution will bring two different races together is naïve."

"People have to note that nothing makes anyone forget the reality of race.. The 1997 Constitution certainly doesn't safeguard the plight of the indigenous people. Because any constitution that has been influenced from outside and with alien ideals or ideologies cannot effectively safeguard the plights of the indigenous people who have different philosophy of life supported by their cultural value and belief system.

"A Constitution which strives to enhance equality among al races without being sensitive to cultural differences and the economic, social and political developmental stages each ethnic group has reached is bound to cause more problems than what the Constitution has intended to resolve.

Ravuvu also stated: "the implications and the practicalities of the 1997 Constitution were not clearly understood by the majority of the indigenous Fijians. Because of this, the Constitution has been a source of contention and struggle and any right thinking mind will note that both the races have rejected the document".

As can be seen, Ravuvu's mind is already made up. From somewhere he arrives at the conclusion that both the races in Fiji have rejected the 1997 Constitution. Yet the facts are that the entire ethnic Indian community as well as a vast majority of ethnic Fijian community has accepted the 1997 constitution and condemn the moves to replace it.

Apenisa Kurisaqila: is a former Alliance Government Minister for Health, and was the Speaker of the Parliament from 1992. When Speight and the terrorists raided the Parliament, he was visibly angry and upset, displayed great courage, lashed out at the Home Affairs Minister for lax security, and told Speight to shoot him if he liked to.

Adi Litia Cakobau: She is representing the confederacy of Kubuna of which Tailevu and Naitasiri provinces are key constituents. She is a key Speight supporter and is the sister of Adi Samanunu Talakuli, Fiji's High Commissioner to Malaysia (who is also a former British citizen and former SVT Minister for Fijian Affairs, and who was at one time Speight's choice for Prime Minister). She was also a key player in the 1987 military coup and had become the Minister for Women in the first Rabuka regime. She is now the vice-Chairperson of the Great Council of Chiefs, and at the height of the terrorist crisis, had asked the Chairman, Sitiveni Rabuka to resign, eyeing the top post for herself.

Berenado Vunibobo: Vunibobo is representing Burebasaqa confederacy of which Rewa province is a prominent member. As a civil servant, he was the person behind the dissent which Sakeasi Butadroka showed against the Alliance Party in the 1970's from which the Nationalist Party was formed. He was then sent to be Fiji's representative to the UN. His son still works for Fiji's UN office as a driver. From New York, he got a job with the UNDP serving in Pakistan. He departed UNDP amidst allegations of sexual harassment, came to Fiji and became a minister in one of the post 1987 military backed regimes. After the 1994 election, he because a Minister in the SVT government, but lost the 1999 election. He then became a SVT nominated Senator in 1999. He was often seen in the Parliament's public gallery days before the terrorists struck.

Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure: He is representing Tovata. The son of Cakaudrove High Chief, Ratu Tevita Vakalalabure, he is a Bond university graduated lawyer who was one of terrorist George Speight's key advisors. He often camped in the Parliament Complex and was heavily involved in drafting "decrees" for Speight. In 1999, he had won the SVT seat to Parliament which was vacated by Sitiveni Rabuka after he resigned in July.

Fatiaki Misau: He represents the Rotuma Island Council. He is a former civil servant.

Charles Walker: A former civil servant, Minister in the Alliance Government, and an Ambassador for Fiji, Walker retired from politics after the 1987 election loss of the Alliance Party. He had shown initial reluctance to serve in the Commission but changed his mind later.

Joe Singh: He is a former employee of the Carpenters Group of Companies, in which the Fijian Holdings Ltd has significant shares. Singh represented Carpenters in the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and as such also became a vice-president of the ACO National Chambers of Commerce and President of the Pacific Islands Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He has retired from Carpenters and is now running a small-time property consulting business. Many prominent businessmen have questioned his continuing involvement in the Chamber of Commerce since his retirement from Carpenters, claiming that he has no standing in the fraternity. According to media reports, he has said that his "biological composition is more than just Indian". He informed journalists that he has "to look at his mother's side" referring to the fact that his mother is ethnic Fijian from the Naitasiri province. Today's Fiji Sun (7 Oct) says that his decision to accept the invitation emerged from his biological composition and the interests of the nation.

Fred Achari: is an ex-civil servant and is now the President of the Pensioners Association. A close friend of his informed the Peoples Coalition that throughout his life he was "very self-serving" and was "a slave of the state". When the Peoples Coalition won the 1999 elections, he had approached it numerous times to become a FLP nominated Senator, failing which a member of the Public Service Commission or in any position anywhere. He has no immediate relative in Fiji.

Ben Bhagwan: A former clerical officer in the Ministry of Health, he has been a social worker for his Church and for a while served in the Sugar Festival Committee, a committee which organizes a fundraising week in Lautoka city. One close friend of his stated that his "endeavour in charity has a fine border with being a lackey". He told today's Fiji Sun that it was a "divine calling" to him to accept the offer. "I think God has called me to serve this country and when God calls, you do things that are right and just", he total the Sun.

Joseph K Maharaj: A lawyer in private practice, he was appointed a magistrate by the General Rabuka regime after the 1987 military coup. He contested a national election under the 1990 Constitution and lost badly, after which he left Fiji and stayed in Papua New Guinea for 5 years. He told today's Fiji Times that he was "ethnically qualified" to be on the Commission since he was head of a family with both ethnic Fijians and ethnic Indian connections, a reference to the fact that his wife is ethnic Fijian. Announcing his membership, the regime claimed he was a well-known lawyer and the media made him a "constitutional expert". He told today's Fiji Sun "I think there were some concerns about proportional voting. I was talking to the PM yesterday and I told him that honestly I myself did not understand the aspects of proportional voting". He also told the Sun that the people of this country should give this Constitution another go, and that he does not see any major defects with the 1997 Constitution.

William Sorby: A past president of the General Voters Party, Sorby resigned amidst controversy and division within the ranks of the general voters. Many believe that he was responsible for the split in the general voter population into two camps. He is a "business consultant".

END

7 October 2000.

Qarase Directs its Constitution Commission

Issue No: 91; 7 October 2000

Interim regime Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has given firm directives on what should be form the recommendations of the regime's Constitution Commission.

In his address to them at their first meeting on Friday 6 October, Qarase asked the Commission to consult widely but stated that the following must be contained in the report:

a.. "constitutional protection for their [ethnic Fijian and Rotuman] rights and interests are not enough. They want to be in control of the making of policies, and the setting of policy directions, in government. "

a.. "since Fiji is the only homeland for the 420,000 or so indigenous Fijians and Rotumans, their culture must be made the national culture of this country."

a.. "We must accept the paramountcy of Fijian and Rotuman interests. They must not be subordinated to those other communities".

The speech to the members contained references to consultation, reconciliation, etc., but the gist is captured in the three statements quoted above. The Commission is to give legal form to ethnic Fijian political control, elevating ethnic Fijian culture to becoming national culture, and ensuring paramountcy of ethnic Fijian social, political, commercial and economic interests.

These translate into absolute subjugation of the political, economic, commercial, and social/cultural rights of the non-indigenous population - about a half - of Fiji. It will also create the first apartheid state in the Pacific, and in fact the first apartheid state of the new millennium.

The full text of the speech can be obtained from the Peoples Coalition.

END

7 October 2000.

Constitiution Commission Members

Issue No: 90; 7 October 2000

The Qarase regime has announced the following as members of its Constitution Commission:

Asesela Ravuvu (Chairperson)

Apenisa Kurisaqila,

Adi Litia Cakokau (representing the confederacy of Kubuna),

Berenado Vunibobo (representing Burebasaqa),

Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure (representing Tovata),

Fatiaki Misau (representing the Rotuma Island Council),

Charles Walker

Joe Singh

Fred Achari

Ben Bhagwan

Joseph K Maharaj

William Sorby

Full profiles of these persons are being compiled and will be sent soon.

END

7 October 2000

Military denies threat to Commander; wants $16m more

The military wants an extra $16m for this year.

Army spokesman Major Howard Politini told today's Fiji Times (7 October) that the army needed the extra money to maintain law and order in the country. Extra operations which the military has to carry out include "soldiers employed to comb the Monasavu area" for prison escapee Alifereti Nimacere, and manning 24-hour checkpoints. Nimacere is still at large, together with notorious ex-soldier, one-time preacher, and now terrorist Tevita Poese.

Politini said the extra $16m needed was in addition to the $10m which it received from the Qarase mini-budget in August. The military budget would rise to $78m if it received the $16m it is asking for. This would be $100 per person in Fiji per year.

The army has also denied that there is any threat on the life of the Commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama. The army was responding to an article published in the New Zealand Herald's website which stated that there were rumours about threats on Bainimarama's life. NZ Foreign Minister was quoted by the web-posted article as saying that "the instability is predictable given that Fiji does not have a democratically elected government".

Today's Fiji Times, which printed a large picture of the closed gates to the Commanders residence, quotes Politini as saying:

"Our intelligence is intact and internally we don't perceive any threat on anyone. We are quite aware of what is happening here and we are secure".

Yesterday's news reported that the army denied it had information that there were possible plans for an uprising this weekend to co-incide with the independence anniversary of Fiji. Today's Fiji Times quotes Politini: "This weekend will be a busy one and as usual we have put up our security alertness measure to counter any opposition".

Two weeks ago, Dr. Tupeni Baba, the Acting Leader of the Peoples Coalition had expressed concern that notorious escapees and terrorists, together with a stock of military weapons, were still freely floating in the country, and that there were rumours of a threat to the lives of some key Peoples Coalition members.

As late as last night, one Peoples Coalition member received a phone call informing him of threats to the life of Peoples Coalition Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, urging the member to ask Chaudhry to delay his return to Fiji. Earlier similar information has been reported to the police.

END

7 October 2000.


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