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The 1997 Constitution Cannot Be Reimposed By Force


28 August, 2000

CHAUDHRY AND THE 1997 CONSTITUTION CANNOT BE REIMPOSED BY FORCE

Statement by the Minister for Information & Communications, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

Those at home and abroad, including political leaders who think that Mahendra Chaudhry and the 1997 Constitution can be brought back by force, are deluding themselves.

First of all, it was the army which abrogated the 1997 Constitution on 29 May as it saw it an essential step towards restoring stability and putting in place a much needed new administration to revive the economy. That cannot be altered.

Second the Fijian people and others too have now made clear that they want neither Chaudhry nor the 1997 Constitution forced down their throats again.

Third, Chaudhry's own deputy Dr Tupeni Baba has publicly stated in the press that Chaudhry's style of leadership gave offence to Fijians and was a cause of widespread disenchantment with his politics. And Chaudhry's son and private secretary equally publicly has made clear that his father's style will not change. Chaudhry is thus no longer acceptable to the people of Fiji.

Fourth, recently Fijian high chief from Tailevu, and Vice President of the Republic publicly said that the coup was not against Indians but against Chaudhry and his government as his arrogant style made Fijians fearful about the security of their own asset, their land.

Fifth, the Qaranivalu of Naitasiri, another high chief was quoted in the press over the weekend as saying "If the former Labour Government were more transparent then the coup would not have happened. Mahendra Chaudhry just spoke transparency he didn't act it".

Sixth, the President of one of the parties allied to him in Government, Ratu Josaia Rayawa was reported on the national radio news as saying that his party wanted a new constitution making Fiji a Christian State and reserving 70% of parliamentary representative for indigenous Fijians. Obviously his party the VLV/CDA is no longer willing to work with Chaudhry.

Seventh, earlier another of Chaudhry's Fijian allies the Fijian Association Party (FAP) had decided that its relationship with the Fiji Labour Party had ended and that in any case it had never been a genuine or satisfactory partnership. Thus with the FAP and VLV/CDA having abandoned Chaudhry and his FLP, Chaudhry has no Fijian mandate whatsoever and he cannot be imposed upon the country.

Eighth, disgusted with Chaudhry's critics in India even Indo-Fijians do not want him back. Here is a sample of what Indians are saying in the press.

In a very short letter Kamal Pal Kumar of Suva wrote as follows in the Fiji Times (25/8): "Since Mahendra Pal Chaudhry has allegiance to India, the interim government should declare Mr Chaudhry persona non grata".

Another Fiji Indian, Praveen Bala writing from Chaudhry's forever constituency in Ba, accuses his government, having destroyed racial relations through "arrogance and dictatorial attitude". Hence, Praveen Bala concludes, "I want to reiterate to Chaudhry. Shut up or ship out. We have had enough of your nonsense".

There is thus no way that the people of Fiji will have Chaudhry, his government and the 1997 Constitution imposed upon them. They want peace and stability not actions which will reawaken ethnic strife and result yet again in widespread civil disturbance. Chaudhry is history and so is the 1997 Constitution. Let them remain so.

[ends]

28 August, 2000 N0:927

MONEY FOR STRIFE - CHAUDHRY'S CAMPAIGN

Chaudhry's campaign to regain power has bogged down in India and become a money gathering game, says a government spokesman.

"Will this be another 1987 money harvest with no accountability of amounts collected and with the expenditure kept secret? Obviously the 1987 files have been lost and nobody in the Fiji Labour Party wants to talk about them. Though Chaudhry is seeing all and sundry in India it is all a show of ethnic solidarity.

"For instance what does Sonya Gandhi know about Fiji and the socio-economic situation of its indigenous people and their rights and aspirations. Her pronouncements on Fiji are hollow and of no consequence".

"The campaign to denigrate Fijian leadership in India will be counterproductive. Besides India cannot intervene in Fiji's affairs. If India embarks on an international campaign to destabilise the interim administration or to hurt Fiji through economic sanctions it will be responsible for undermining our economic recovery. It will also be guilty of delaying the return of democracy speedily as the interim administration intends.

"There is already an administration in place, appointed by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, which alone has the power in the present situation to determine who shall govern. Chaudhry must accept he is now history. He will have to wait till the new constitution and the next general election".

[ends]


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