FLP replies to criticism on Forum Paper

  • 15th August 2003
  • 2003
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The Fiji Labour Party is concerned at Media distortions and criticism of a briefing paper on Fiji’s constitutional crisis it is circulating at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting currently underway in Auckland.

The FLP is not calling for regional military intervention in Fiji’s affairs as being deliberately misreported by the Media.

Intervention can take many forms. What we are seeking is for the Forum to uphold the principles of the Biketawa Declaration of October 2000 wherein it made a commitment to the principles of good governance, equality and democracy embracing the notions of open, transparent, accountable, participatory, consultative, fair and equitable government.

We have made similar calls on the Commonwealth and the European Union to uphold the principles of democracy and good governance enshrined in the Harare Declaration and the Cotonou Agreement, respectively.

Such conventions and declarations become just sanctimonious platitudes unless leaders are prepared to show their commitment to such instruments by enforcing them. We are simply reminding regional leaders that they have an obligation to scrutinise the performance of Forum Island nations under guidelines established by them in the Biketawa Declaration.

Fiji has demonstrably failed to comply with several provisions of the Biketawa Declaration which was reaffirmed by Forum leaders at last year’s Nasonini Declaration.

“If regional declarations are to have any effect, it becomes incumbent upon the Forum to ensure compliance on the part of member states,” Labour Parliamentary Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.

Fiji may not have reached the level of destruction and violence that the Solomon Islands has experienced. But it must take strong warning from the fact that we were not far from total anarchy in 2000 following the terrorist takeover of Parliament on 19 May.

How can one forget that one/third of Suva was torched, smashed, looted and ransacked on 19 May 2000?

How can one forget the fear and violence that reigned as terrorists took over army posts and police stations in outlying areas of Tailevu/Naitasiri and Labasa? Scores of farming families were forced to flee their homes in terror as marauding thugs plundered their properties, crops and livestock, while others hid in ditches at nights to escape the violence.

How can one forget the 19 soldiers who lost their lives in the conflagration that engulfed us all in 2000? And the thousands of innocent families who suffered untold hardship when they lost their jobs as a result of the economic devastation brought in by the coup.

Failure to act now to uphold the norms of democracy, equality and good governance will sow the seeds for further instability and violence.

The Fiji Labour Party is not a party that believes in politics of convenience or connivance. We are fighting for a principle and for the rights of our people.

The Supreme Court has called on the Prime Minister to negotiate in good faith. This he must do.

“It is not a question of simply negotiating Cabinet positions for a Party. We are fighting for the future of our nation.

“This is why it is imperative that this constitutional issue is sorted out now. We are setting a precedence for the future,” Mr. Chaudhry said.