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Pro-Democracy Groups Praise Military

Pro-Democracy Groups Praise Military; Regime Supporters, Fiji Times Condemn It

Issue No: 411 25 January 2001

The revelation that the military intends to stand by the decisions of the courts of law in Fiji has won praises from a wide section of the community.

A newspaper reported the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Fijian Association, Adi Kuini Speed praising the military saying "The nation's prayers have been answered and I thank God that we now see a way forward for Fiji".

The Citizens Constitutional Forum, according to the paper, congratulated the military for its courageous and principled stand. CCF's Rev. Akuila Yabaki stated of the Military Commander: "Your reputation personally and that of your troops under your command has been greatly enhanced by the statement. It has given confidence to the people here and overseas who have an interest in the strengthening of constitutional government and rule of law".

Fiji First also praised the military. First's Mick Beddoes stated that the Commander's single act of reason, fairness and determination was a reassuring and positive sign".

Other NGO's also praised the military. Trade unionists endorsed the military's stand and staid that the only way the economy could get back to track is for the 1997 Constitution to be brought back. The Fiji Youth and Students League stated that the military should remain firm to the oath it has taken and ensure that the rule of law returns to the country. FYSL's western co-ordinator said: "The coming weeks will for the final time determine whether people can have faith in the military or regard it as an enemy of democracy and downtrodden people in the country. This is a golden opportunity for the military to redeem itself of past wrongs. And the signs are that it will not let this opportunity go by".

The military's stand, however, has been criticised by the supporters of the regime.

The Fiji Times led the attack by saying that the military should stay out of politics. Its editorial today stated that people will not want to know why did the army change its stand. It further stated that the army should take a backseat and support the decisions of the President. It said that the army should support the government of the day.

That the High Court has ruled that the government of the day is the government elected by the people under the 1997 Constitution was conveniently forgotten by the Fiji Times.

The Fiji Times sought comments from a defeated SVT candidate Ratu Kiniviliame Taukeinikoro, and the Lomaiviti Provincial Council Chairman. Both condemned the military for stating that it will back the court decisions. Another defeated candidate, Ratu Josefa Rayawa of the VLV faction supporting the regime stated: "It is a childish decision. I do not think the decision originates from Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama", saying that there is a "faceless figure" that is making the decisions for the military. Rayawa again warned of violence if the Court of Appeal upheld the Gates' decision. Nationalist trade unionist, Taniela Tabu also warned of bloodshed.

Meanwhile Sitiveni Rabuka has called for the military to stand behind the police force. The Police is led by Isikia Savua, who was alleged by the terrorists to become the Prime Minister in a post-coup regime with Rabuka as the President. Rabuka also called for a political summit to discuss the problems, and for a government of National Unity if the regime's appeal failed. Earlier he had stated that the government be composed of past prime ministers and deputy prime ministers.

END


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