Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Khaiyum must confirm or deny reports that he threatened not to renew Fiji TV’s licence if it continues to give coverage to interviews with elected political leaders.
According to media reports, the threat was issued following TV One’s news coverage of interviews with former prime ministers Laisenia Qarase and Mahendra Chaudhry .
If the reports are accurate, then it is a matter of grave concern at a time when Fiji is embarking on the process to restore democracy and constitutional rule.
It is contrary to repeated assurances given by the interim prime minister as well as the interim attorney general, both locally and to the international community that, with the lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations, people are free to speak on political issues and concerns.
The FLP has been concerned for some time that, despite these assurances, the ground reality is quite the opposite. Local media organisations are still not giving fair and balanced coverage to elected political leaders perceived as “opposition” by the regime.
The reported threat by the interim attorney general goes to confirm that the media here is still operating under considerable constraints placed on them by the authorities.
Is the regime so afraid of elected leaders that they must resort to the tactics of a police state to shut them out from the people?
The FLP intends to raise this matter with the Constitutional Commission and other relevant organisations because it is now very clear that the process of taking Fiji back to democratic rule via general elections is not taking place in a free and fair environment.
The process can hardly be described as inclusive and participatory if the voice of elected political leaders is going to be gagged by the regime.