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Civil Servants Take On Political Roles

Issue No: 378 15 January 2001

The rapid trend of senior civil servants taking on political roles is paralysing the country.

More recently, the Permanent Secretary in the President's Office, Luke Ratuvuki has increasingly started making political statements. Today's Fiji Times quotes Ratuvuki as saying: "Right now peace is the top priority on the list and everything else comes after that. This includes the ruling made by Justice Anthony Gates to uphold the 1997 Constitution.. we don't want any bloodshed because we know what will happen if the ruling is upheld".

The statements were made after another permanent secretary was posted to the President's Office last week. To purport to speak on behalf of the Interim President, when he is no longer the Permanent Secretary is the extent to which Ratuvuki has gone to advance his personal political feelings.

It is understood that the President, who has been ill for some time, did not ask or direct Ratuvuki to make the statement. It is widely known within the civil service that Ratuvuki, who has now been appointed by the regime to be Fiji's ambassador to China, forms a part of the senior civil service group which has systematically and effectively taken over the political decision making of the regime. It is almost the same group which was running the government when the SVT was in power.

In another interesting development, newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Jeremaia Waqanisau has been posted to the President's Office as Ratuvuki's replacement. Waqanisau was an unsuccessful contender for the Military Commander's job when the job was offered to Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. The President, whose advisor now is Waqanisau, is the Commander in Chief of the Military.

The military plays one of the most crucial roles in enforcing any court decision on the Constitution. It is getting clear that the regime, and particularly the senior civil servants who wish to run the country, de facto, have been aiming to influence the military to ignore court decisions on the legality of the 1997 Constitution.

END

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