Threats to the leaders of three political parties by Commodore Bainimarama raise serious questions about whether the constitutional process is being held in the free and open environment promised by the interim prime minister.
On Friday over a debate on the future role of the military in Fiji politics, Commodore Bainimarama warned that any attempts to hold the military accountable for the 2006 coup, “will be the end of those who are behind it”.
In a jointly signed statement issued in reply, the Leaders Laisenia Qarase (SDL), Mahendra Chaudhry (FLP) and Mick Beddoes (UPP) asked Commodore Bainimarama to explain what he meant.
Not surprisingly, the Fiji Sun widely regarded as being blatantly regime, did not publish the response by the political leaders although it had given Bainimarama’s statement a full run.
We reproduce here, for the benefit of those interested, the full statement issued by the leaders of the SDL, FLP and UPP:
Joint statement by Leaders of SDL, FLP and UPP
15 June 2012
Comments by the Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama reported in the Fiji Sun today represent a very real and grave threat, especially to the leader of the United Peoples Party, Mr Mick Beddoes.
The Prime Minister was quoted as saying that “the day when the military will be taken to prison, that will be the end of those who are behind it.”
His comments followed a statement from Mr Beddoes denouncing threatening statements from the Army’s Land Force Commander, Colonel MoseseTikoitoga. Mr Beddoes had spoken of possible future legal consequences and the immunity issue in relation to the events of December 2006.
We call on Commodore Bainimarama to explain what he means by the words “that will be the end of those who are behind it”.
We also call on him to say whether such a statement will contribute to the creation of the open and free atmosphere he has promised for the talks about Fiji’s constitutional future. All topics are up for consideration, including the role of the military.
In view of the threats and warnings by the Prime Minister and Colonel Tokoitoga, we are reviewing our stance on the constitutional consultations. The spreading of fear and threats by representatives of the military is not consistent with the pledge made by the Prime Minister for wide-ranging, free and inclusive discussions. It is also not in the national interest.
How can the Constitutional Commission carry out its work properly in such an environment?
We are taking advice on whether any laws have been breached although there can be little doubt that the provisions of the Media Decree have been broken. The Prime Minister needs to understand that nobody is above the law.
We condemn the Fiji Sun for its reckless and one-sided reporting and urge it to follow the rules of balance and fairness contained in the Media Decree.
Some of the Prime Minister’s reported remarks in the Fiji Times today are undemocratic and unhelpful. He was quoted as saying that the electoral process and its outcomes would not be influenced by MahendraChaudhry, LaiseniaQarase and the women’s forums.
It is for the people to decide on such issues, not Commodore Bainimarama.
It is disturbing that he appears to be planning a controlling role for the Army in the constitutional process.
Mahendra P. Chaudhry (FLP)