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FPCG News, Issues 594 - 602 - Chiefs Meet Again

FPCG News, Issues 594 - 602

Great Council of Chiefs to meet again
Issue No: 602 19 March 2001

Media reports that the Great Council of Chiefs will be meeting again within two weeks.

It is believed that the meeting is in light of the widespread concern which people have on the President's flagrant violation of the 1997 Constitution which the Chiefs had endorsed as the valid supreme law in the country.

When the Chiefs met last week, they had in no uncertain terms made it clear that they accepted the 1997 Constitution as the existing law of the land.

Within days of this decision, however, the President, who was nominated by the Chiefs themselves, began a series of acts all of which were contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. It is believed that the President has been put in the indefensible corner by the advisors within the bureaucracy.


Newspaper slates Qarase for perverting law Issue No: 601 19 March 2001

The Fiji Sun has questioned the political credibility of the reappointed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

In a strong but objective editorial written on Saturday, the paper stated:

"The people no longer place their faith in the office of the President, the Prime Minister and even the once exalted Great Council of Chiefs no longer commands the respect it once did. Why? Because our leaders have not been honest with the people who made them leaders. How Laisenia Qarase can claim to have the majority backing of the people of Fiji should be explained to the people. His policies are blatantly racist. His very appointment is a smack in the face for all right thinking people who were led to believe that Mr. Qarase would live by his words and abide by the High Curt ruling. The way the court judgment has been perverted will blight the conscience of this nation for generations".

The editorial echoes the sentiments of a vast majority of Fiji's people.

Earlier, the head of the Women's Crisis Centre, Shamima Ali had called Qarase racist and stated that he was not a respectable person. A day later the regime attacked Ali for making the comments, saying that she is unelected and unrepresentative!

Meanwhile the Sunday Times columnist Netani Rika has also questioned the credibility of the Great Council of Chiefs. Calling the Council of Chiefs a "flatulence", Rika slated the inability of the Chiefs to make a firm decision on the Court of Appeal decision.


Ravuvu of Constitution Review says he will defy court order Issue No: 600; 19 March 2001

The Chairman of the regime's Constitution Review Commission, Asesela Ravuvu says he will defy the court order to not to hold any more meetings of the CRC until 3 May.

In a case brought against the regime by the Fiji Labour Party, the High Court granted an interim injunction on 17 January stopping the CRC from continuing to hear submissions and use taxpayer funds. The case was brought again for mention on Friday 16 March when the court extended the interim injunction until 3 May when the case will be heard.

Yesterday's Sunday Sun, however, reports Ravuvu saying that he will defy the court order. He stated that once he is officially informed by the President to go ahead, he will restart the meetings despite the court order.

In his address to the nation after taking office on Thursday 15 March, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo had stated that he will be issuing instructions for the CRC to continue work. (see ).

Already the President has defied the Constitution of the land. The regime has also gone on record defending the unlawful acts of the regime. The statement by Ravuvu that he will also defy the court is in the same trend as the defiance of the law by the President and the Qarase regime.


Regime defends breach of Constitution Issue No: 599 18 March 2001

The Qarase regime has defended the breach of the Constitution saying that the breach was necessary to go back to democracy.

In a media interview, the regime's Attorney General Alipate Qetaki stated that the regime had to take unconstitutional and unlawful steps in order to implement the Fiji Court of Appeal decision. He further stated that the appointment of the interim regime as the caretaker regime is the process "to ensure that after the elections everything will be in order".

Qetaki, a civil servant before becoming the Attorney General, also revealed that he still has a contract with the Public Service Commission which expires in 2003.

This revelation confirms the belief of many, including the Fiji Public Service Association, that the upper echelons of the civil service is heavily politicised. The ease with which certain elite ethnic Fijians move from the civil service to politics to statutory body board memberships and chief executive positions, back into civil service and politics, reveals how a small coterie of elite Fijians have been trying to control Fiji's politics after the 1987 military coups. These are the faceless people within the government structure who have detested a democratic government from running Fiji and who have ensured that the President takes steps which are unconstitutional.

Meanwhile the Fiji Public Service Association has cautioned its members of senior civil servants who were too politicised and were behaving as they were the elected representatives of the people.

END 18 Mach 2001

Newspaper withdraws Qarase endorsement calling him power hungry Issue No: 597 17 March 2001

The influential daily, the Fiji Times, has withdrawn its hearty endorsement of Laisenia Qarase only a day after the endorsement.

On Friday, the paper wrote that the reappointment of Qarase was a "wise and justified" decision.

While the paper did not reason why was it wise and justified, especially in light of the decision being unconstitutional and unlawful, it stated that career politicians can not be trusted for maintaining law and order, rebuilding the economy and preparing the groundwork for the next election. It stated: "Qarase should think very carefully before reappointing his interim team - not because they have done badly but because of the public perception that the politicians among them will use their positions to attract votes. His team should be small and apolitical.. He should say when the election will take place and make a clear commitment that politicians - present and aspiring - can have no place in his interim regime".

But Qarase did exactly the opposite. Not only did he reappoint the entire team of 30+ ministers and assistant ministers, but he also announced in clear terms that he was going to contest the next election. And over a half of his ministers and assistant ministers also announced that they will contest the next election.

An irritated Fiji Times yesterday slated Qarase saying he "misled the public". It stated that the Qarase team "is too big for the job it is asked to do. And it contains a large number of active and aspiring politicians who cannot be expected to act impartially".

The paper went on to call Qarase a power hungry politician: "Here is a man they [people] thought would guide the nation back to democracy without fear or favour - yet it can now be argued that he is just another aspiring politician hungry for power".

Those who know Qarase know very well that he is not only power hungry but also corrupt and a racist.

Over the recent past, the Fiji Times and the state owned Daily Post have been heaping praises on Qarase, each albeit for different reasons. The Post is not only state owned and as such used by the regime to the optimal, but its Acting Editor is also a close relative of Qarase. Furthermore, the Publisher and General Manager of the Post was put in that position by someone who is now in the Qarase team; he has for some time been writing a column called Aage-Piche column heaping praises for Qarase and his team, and the defeated National Federation Party. It is understood that the person had made overtures to the People's Coalition Government for a few top statutory body jobs for which he was deemed unsuitable by the boards.

The Fiji Times, on the other hand, has been rail-roaded by personal agendas of one or two senior journalists with close links with defeated politicians and senior bureaucrats earlier put in place by the defeated politicians. The obvious political propaganda - for example that the Qarase regime did not do badly - in light of the historically unparalleled eviction of farmers in the country during the regime's term, the continuing economic recession, the massive rise in corruption and nepotism, the entrenchment of apartheid, the rising prices, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, rising poverty, etc. - can only be explained not in terms of any objective assessment of the composition, performance, and legality of the regime, but in terms of hatred for the People's Coalition Government which a few senior journalists have. That the management of the newspaper has allowed these handful of petty politicians masquerading as journalists to continue with their propaganda reflects poorly on the management of the paper as well. It also tarnishes the image of a large number of professional journalists with the newspaper who have remained neutral of any government.

END 18 March 2001

It's the same cabinet; Court of Appeal decision rejected by regime Issue No: 596 17 March 2001

Fiji is back to where it was before the Fiji Court of Appeal had delivered its landmark decision on the legality of the Qarase regime.

While the Court declared the Qarase regime illegal and Qarase pledged to uphold the decision of the Court, Qarase has finally rejected the decision of the court.

Today Qarase announced that he was maintaining his cabinet team until new elections in Fiji.

Qarase was reappointed on Thursday to be the Prime Minister. This appointment came exactly two weeks after the landmark court decision declaring the Qarase regime illegal.

While the Great Council of Chiefs had decided that the 1997 Constitution is still the supreme law of the land, either the Council failed to give the President the directive to work within the provisions of the Constitution, or it also said one thing and directed that another be done.

In either case, the reputation and the credibility of the Great Council of Chiefs is at stake. If it decided to accept the 1997 Constitution as law, then it must immediately demand that the President work within the provisions of the Constitution.

If, on the other hand, it endorses the actions of the President, then it itself will be rightfully blamed for encouraging illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful actions in the country.

What is clear now is that the regime and those behind the breakdown in law and order in the country can not fool the international community any more. They have demonstrated that they have no intention of abiding by established law. As such they will be the ones to be blamed for any response which Fiji gets for the continuing reign of the illegal regime.

It is clear that Fiji is now heading towards major economic sanctions, possible expulsion of Fiji troops from peacekeeping operations abroad, and a likely expulsion from the Commonwealth of Nations.

END 17 March 2001

Qarase says he will contest next election Issue No: 595 17 March 2001

Laisenia Qarase, with his controversial appointment as the Prime Minister, has stated that he will continue to serve as the Prime Minister despite the criticisms that his appointment is illegal.

He also informed the media that he will contest the next election. He also announced that his cabinet will be about the same size as his last cabinet, and that he may retain most of its past members.

Meanwhile, the Qarase appointment has come under across the board criticism as being illegal.

The net effect of the decisions has been that the regime has rejected the Fiji Court of Appeal decision.

Many now believe that Qarase has been adamant in clinging to power because of the danger that a transparent government will expose the Qarase dealings with public funds when he was the Managing Director of the state owned Fiji Development Bank. Many now believe that the FDB is in a similar state as the state owned National Bank of Fiji which went bankrupt because of massive corruption.


Radio Fiji retracts Prosecution report Issue No: 594 17 March 2001

The Radio Fiji has retracted a news report in which it stated that the state prosecution office had asked for an adjournment of the treason case in order to get a response from the newly appointed President.

The original report was broadcast on the day of the treason case. The court had met on Nukulau Island.

Later a Radio Fiji news stated that the prosecution had not provided any such ground for the adjournment.


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