Military On Alert But Denies Political Upheaval
Issue No: 248 3 December 2000
The military has confirmed increased presence and alertness in the Suva-Nausori areas. But military's spokesman, Major Howard Politini told today's Sunday Post that this was because of the funeral of Rewa chief Ratu Mosese Tuisawau. He also added: "It was just a precautionary measure taken. The festive season is also near so we are just taking extra care".
On Friday the military denied that there was any possibility of political upheaval. Military's spokesperson, Lt. Tagi Tupou told the Daily Post that people hearing of such rumours "should call us [military] and lodge a complaint". He confirmed that the military was carrying out public relations exercise in Tailevu and Naitasiri, talking to villagers about the events since May 19. He said: "It is just part of our exercise. We have to get to the people and explain to them about what the military and the Interim Administration is doing".
Residents in the Suva-Nausori areas continue to report increased presence of soldiers in their areas.
SVT bars Dakuvula from AGM Issue No: 247 2 December 2000
Prominent pro-democracy activist and SVT member, Jone Dakuvula was today barred from entering the hall for the SVT's AGM.
Speaking to this evening's TV news, Dakuvula stated that he was blocked at the door by people who stated that the SVT's Secretary, Jone Banuve had issued the directive.
Dakuvula was to move numerous motions at the meeting calling for the reinstatement of the 1997 Constitution, agreeing to call on Ratu Mara to the Presidency, the convening of the Parliament, and the formation of a government of national unity.
Dakuvula told the TV news that the party was now taken over by extremist nationalists, and that unless the party cut itself loose from these elements, the party is headed towards doom.
Meanwhile, the TV reported that former Deputy PM in the SVT government, Filipe Bole called for any review of the Constitution to be done within the framework of the 1997 Constitution. The final resolutions were still not made public when this posting was being prepared. Interim regime PM, Laisenia Qarase was the chief guest at the meeting
Savua decision widely condemned Issue No: 246 2 December 2000
The regime's decision to reinstate suspended Police Commissioner, Isikia Savua to his post has been criticised widely by political parties, unions, the military, civil servants, ngo's and the media.
All political parties except the SVT criticised the decision vehemently. Elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry stated that the decision will compromise the investigations into the terrorist takeover of the Parliament. Even the NFP, SVT's Coalition partner called the decision "a joke". The Fiji Trades Union Congress also criticised the decision, saying that so far "investigations have produced no results. No one to date has been convicted or any crime associated with the events of May 19 or thereafter".
The SVT, on the other hand, has welcomed the decision, according to the Daily Post. Former PM, Sitiveni Rabuka, today also welcomed the decision. Speaking to this evening's TV news, Rabuka said that there was no danger to the investigations going on into the terrorist activities. The TV news reported that police investigations in the involvement of Savua and Rabuka are continuing.
The TV news also reported that senior police officers were concerned that the decision will compromise the investigation.
Today's Daily Post, which is partly government owned, gave a scathing attack on the decision and asked Savua to step down. It stated: "The most honorouble thing for him is to step down as the head of the force with whatever dignity he has left".
The Fiji Sun also editorialised: "Commissioner Savua's reputation, and credibility copped a bashing at the height of the hostage crisis". It questioned whether the decision can restore confidence in the police force.
The military is also concerned at the decision. According to a Fiji Times report, a delegation comprising senior civil servants and a military delegation visited the interim President to raise their objection to Savua's reinstatement.
Yesterday Savua, alleged to be a key figure behind the terrorists, stated that the law must be respected. He is to resume his post on Monday.
Lobbyists want FEA declared a Fijian Institution Issue No: 245 1 December 2000
The Fiji Electricity Authority should be recognised as an indigenous Fijian institution. This is the recommendation of consultant, Isikeli Fatafehi to the regime's Minister for Fijian Affairs.
According to a Fiji Sun report today, Fatafehi wrote to the Minister on 20 November on FEA letterhead saying that the raw product for electricity was totally Fijian, and that 51.4% of the "competent and reliable" paying customers of the FEA were indigenous Fijians. He stated that the FEA was a "100 percent Fijian and Fiji Government" institution.
Fatafehi has been a consultant for the NLTB. How he got the FEA letterhead remains a mystery.
In July, landowners on which FEA's hydroelectricity plants are located took over the power generation plant after overpowering the soldiers on guard at the plant. They held the plant keeping the soldiers hostage for weeks before giving up after FEA agreed to pay them a ransom of millions of dollars. The agreement led to a payment agreement of $56m to the landowners.
Now, reports the Fiji Sun, landowners want a greater chare of benefits from hydro-electricity generation. Landowners representative, Simione Drole, told the Sun that there were seeking an audience with Qarase.
Drole was one of Speight's key man on 19 May when he provided the signal to Speight that the PM had arrived into the Parliament chamber signalling that Speight and his band enter the Parliament. Drole was later made the Minister for Works in the Speight cabinet. He has so far not been arrested or questioned by the police or the army despite proof being given to the police.
Landowners threaten water supply closure Issue No: 244 1 December 2000
Landowners of land where a water pump feeding most of Suva is located, have threatened to close it down if the government doesn't pay it compensation.
A report in today's Fiji Times (1 Dec) stated that the Mataqali Bureqwatu has given the regime until 6 December to respond to their claims. If the regime fails to do this, they will close the pump.
The landowners are claiming compensation for a piece of land on which the pump is located in Waimanu; for the access road the government constructed over this land, and for a pipeline easement from Sawani to the Savura water catchment.
In another development, the Native Lands Trust Board is suing the government and a private contractor for $30m for destroying two floating `islands' in Vanua Levu through gravel extraction. The `islands' of about 1 acre each, are located in a river from which the gravel was extracted. The islands no longer `float', claims the NLTB. Today's Radio Fiji news reported that the NLTB is suing on behalf of the traditional landowners.
Chiefs may be doomed, says military lawyer Issue No: 242 1 December 2000
Fiji's chiefs may be doomed if they do not exploit the davantage emerging form the belief that they are oprdained by God, says the military's Director of Legal Matters, Lt-Col. Etuweni Caucau.
In an interview published in today's Fiji Sun, Caucau answered the question on whether the political events of now pointed to certain abberation sin Fijian leadership, tradition or culture, as follows:
"Our country had done through a period of transition. The Late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, a prominent high chief and distinguished scholar, stood alone in his time and was revered for his wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Since then a lot of indigenous Fijians have left our shores and have come back highly qualified and well informed on the happenings in so called first world countries."
"Previosuly, I mean during the colonial times, those chiefly status were always given preferential treatment for education and other purposes. Now the playing field is becoming more level and commoners are proving to be as competent than chiefs. I personally feel that the only advantage that chiefs have now is that God ordains their calling as chiefs."
"It they fail to recognise and exploit this advantage, they are doomed."
Caucau also stated that the military had pledged its support to the interim Qarase regime. And it supports the regime's appeal of the Gates' decision because there are other similar cases where the military's Commander has been listed as a co-defendant.
On the 1997 Constitution, Caucau stated that he felt that it "is a sound document". He, however, stated that military will abide by the route that will be non-violent and most widely accepted. By `route' he was referring to the Qarase route of a new constitution and a new election, and the alternative provided by the Gates ruling for a legal route of the 1997 Constitution.
END 1 December 2000