In his welcome speech to NZ Prime Minister John Key last night, which read more as an apologia than anything else, Voreqe Bainimarama complained that the NZ media still think he and his government lack legitimacy.
Referring to the 2014 general elections, he said: “Prime Minister, on the basis of that vote – endorsed as credible and free by an observer group of 20 nations – the FijiFirst party that I lead gained just under 60 per cent of the vote. And it is on that basis that I stand before you tonight. Not as a coup maker or dictator – as some in your country would still have it – but as the popularly elected, freely chosen leader of Fiji. Our revolution, our constitution and our political movement all having gained the endorsement of the Fijian people in an act of free will.”
Mr. Bainimarama is wrong to claim the endorsement of the Fijian people.
We say: not only a large body of opinion in New Zealand but an increasingly large “body of opinion” in Fiji also questions the legitimacy of the Bainimarama government.
There is ample evidence that the 2014 elections were rigged. There was nothing “credible and free” about it, despite the clearance given by the overseas observer group. The one-day elections were so engineered to make it impossible for a handful of members of the Observer Group to critically observe what was happening at all the 1400 polling stations throughout the country.
The Supervisor of Elections who failed to meet the minimum requirements of the post, and in fact had never voted in an election in his life, was hand picked to aid and abet the regime to stay in office.
The entire electoral process, and the regulations governing it, was deliberately manipulated to achieve a certain agenda. Even the Electoral Commission in its report following the elections, questions certain electoral provisions which impeded the holding of free and fair elections.
And of course, we have the revelations of one Commissioner who after his resignation, revealed how the Supervisor of Elections was manipulated by a higher authority. We all know who that was.
Bainimarama’s claim that his coup was instigated to fight corruption is a laugh. His own government lacks any credibility on this front. The Auditor General’s reports for 2009-2014 are ample evidence of an absolute lack of accountability and transparency in the regime’s conduct of the State’s finances.
The nation is still waiting for Bainimarama and AG Khaiyum to release details of their salaries between 2010 and 2013 paid out secretly by the AG’s aunt’s accounting firm.
Bainimarama proudly holds up his imposed 2013 constitution as proof of the “revolution” he achieved. That constitution completely lacks any legitimacy because it was imposed on the people of Fiji without any debate or discussion. It is a seriously flawed document.
He talks of the independence of the judiciary. The actual truth is that the independence and jurisdiction of the Judiciary is highly circumscribed under the imposed 2013 constitution.
Questions about your legitimacy as a “democratic” leader, Mr Bainimarama, can go on and on. You may well repress the local media and gag the Opposition in parliament from asking questions, but you can’t quell the media overseas.