The Fiji Labour Party (FLP) has called for the restoration of democratic rule as soon as possible.
FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the party’s Management Board met this morning and discussed the current constitutional crisis and its effect on the nation. The Board called on the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) to hand over executive authority to H.E. the President, as soon as possible, in order to facilitate a prompt return to democratic rule.
The FLP noted that the root cause of the standoff between the military and the government related to issues of good governance.
The endemic corruption and scams in government, fuelled by a powerful alliance between corrupt politicians, civil servants and unscrupulous businesspersons, further aggravated the already strained relations between the military and the government.
The government’s incompetent management of the economy and its recklessness with public finances had also become issues of serious concern as it saw poverty levels escalating and public services deteriorating beyond limits of tolerance.
‘The current crisis has its roots in the aftermath of the May 2000 coup and the appointment of the Qarase interim administration which had terrorist elements of the pro George Speight group – persons who actively supported Speight and who subsequently became members of the Qarase Government after the 2001 general elections.
Some of these terrorists elements were charged, convicted and jailed, but were allowed to retain their parliamentary seats in clear defiance of the most rudimentary tenets of good governance.
‘Another bone of contention relates to the controversial Bills on traditional fishing grounds, land claims and the grant of amnesty to terrorists implicated in the events of May 2000 and the mutiny at the Army Barracks in November 2000.
‘Again, these Bills were objected to by the FLP as well as numerous other organizations, including the Police Force, but were not heeded by Mr Qarase in time.
Notwithstanding all these, the FLP leader urged Commodore Bainimarama to expedite efforts to restore democratic and constitutional rule.
“Quite simply, we cannot condone coups as each coup sets the country back at least 20 years. We still haven’t recovered from the events of May 2000. The economy is at a standstill, employment is declining, poverty is on the rise, with hardly any prospect for the 17,000 school leavers each year. Serious crime is on the rise and our dollar is under pressure as a result of our poor performing export sector.
The suspension of foreign aid will also heavily impact on the less privileged and the needy and we should be mindful of the threats of donor countries to suspend aid to Fiji,” said Mr. Chaudhry.
The FLP leader said there was still time to salvage the situation but this would require commitment, concessions and a genuine desire by those concerned to act in the best interest of the nation and her people.