Fiji: South Pacific’s first Banana Republic!

  • 12th November 2015
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The sudden resignation of Police Commissioner Groenewald claiming
too much military interference with Police work raises

Too much military interference: Goenewald

Too much military interference: Groenewald

serious questions about the absence of rule of law, and the separation of powers between the different arms of the State.

Moreover, the appointment of Land Force Commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as acting Police Commissioner is a matter of considerable disquiet and cause for concern.

Not only does this further militarise top positions in the country, it also signals heightened army interference in the affairs of the Police, and the governance of the nation generally.

The current state of affairs is too dangerous to be allowed to continue. Here we have the military harbouring an alleged criminal charged with sexual assault. The man Pita Matairavula happens to be a former bodyguard of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

The military also interfered with due process when it recruited three policemen who had been suspended from the force after they were charged with assault, indecent assault and rape. The men now have the protection of the army and an Army lawyer to defend them.

This is a very dangerous situation and must be strongly opposed by all citizens. The army is not above the law, and should not be allowed to pervert the course of justice. It should be remembered that at the time the brutal assault on the two escaped prisoners was exposed, the Prime Minister had publicly stated that he would stand by his men accused of serious criminal offences.

In this regard, FLP welcomes the statement by former New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, that Australia and New Zealand should now re-examine their stance on Fiji to determine whether they had not been too hasty in supporting it. Refer: http://www.radionz.co.nz/…/rule-of-law-abused-in-fiji-winst…

Likewise, the Commonwealth and the United Nations should take note of such developments and be a lot more cautious in their engagement with Fiji. Most definitely, our Western allies need to reconsider their military engagement with an Army that has such a sullied human rights reputation at home.

The FLP has maintained throughout that, despite the general elections last year, the military is still very much in command and that there has not been a genuine return to democracy – Fiji, in effect, remains a military dictatorship.

This crisis serves also to underscore our oft-repeated claim that the 2013 imposed constitution was specifically crafted to maintain the autocratic rule of the past 9 years. Hopefully, those who acclaimed it then, are now able to see through its façade.

The appointment of Colonel Qiliho raises once again questions regarding conflict of interest and separation of powers. The Chair of the Constitutional Services Commission (COC) is the Prime Minister. He has granted himself unreserved powers to make acting appointments without consulting with the other members of the Commission.

This is the second time, an arbitrary appointment has been made without the Commission meeting to discuss the matter. The other occasion was when the Prime Minister as chair named Viliame Naupoto as acting Army Commander following the sudden and unexplained resignation of Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga.

The COC comprises 4 government and 2 Opposition nominees with the PM as its chair. It is, therefore, not independent of party politics which it should be, if it were to claim any credibility as an institution responsible for making appointments to independent constitutional offices.

Is there any doubt that Fiji is now truly a Banana Republic.