Once and for all the Fiji Labour Party wishes to inform academic Dr. Wadan Narsey that it had no inside foreknowledge of the 2006 coup, had nothing to do with its planning or execution and had never been silent on this issue.
Having said that, it should be pointed out that in the months leading to 5 December 2006, the entire nation, not to mention the international community, knew that the Army and the government were heading towards a final showdown and that military intervention was highly imminent. Indeed, for almost three years the Commander had been threatening a takeover… one didn’t need to be part of any conspiracy to foresee this! Even Australia kept saying a coup was about to take place.
If Dr Narsey must point fingers, then it should be pointed at the failure of diplomacy to resolve the conflict, rather than at any ‘conspiracy’ to hide the truth.
FLP is responding to an article by Wadan Narsey headed “Fiji’s cancerous conspiracies of silence”, wherein he accuses the FLP, among others, of maintaining silence on details surrounding the 2006 coup. In reply, we say that the accusation is false and unwarranted. It is yet another indication of Mr Narsey’s tendency to speak without doing his research, a failing on which we have had to pull him up before.
FLP had issued timely statements at all crucial stages of the political crisis in 2006, as it is wont to do on all matters of national interest to ensure that the people of Fiji, and its constituents in particular, are kept fully informed on the Party’s views and actions regarding issues.
The facts are as follows:
On 30 November 2006, amid rising fears of a coup, the FLP parliamentary caucus met in Suva to discuss the deteriorating political crisis. We had repeatedly offered advice to the Prime Minister, as well as our services as mediator, to stave off the catastrophe but there had been no response from the Prime Minister.
The caucus resolved that FLP should not become involved in the dispute. It urged both the PM and the Commander to seriously consider resolving their differences through dialogue and mediation.
In a media statement issued after the caucus meeting, the FLP categorically stated that, having itself been a victim of two coups, the Party “would not condone any extra-constitutional means to remove an elected government”. FLP also maintained that the Constitution of Fiji was the supreme law of the land and must be observed, honoured and respected by all citizens including the State.
At 6pm on December 5, the Commander declared in a national address to the people of Fiji that the Army had taken over the government. Along with the rest of Fiji, Party Leaders were following developments through the news media. The next day on December 6, Parliament was dissolved, Dr Senilagakali was sworn in as prime minister and a state of emergency declared. The FLP management board met the same day to discuss the situation and issued the following statement:
“The Board decided that the FLP would not support any unlawful act. However, the Party would engage in resolving the national crisis after executive authority was handed back to the President. It was further agreed that a resolution be found within the framework of the 1997 Constitution”.
A special FLP National Council meeting in Ba on 16 December endorsed the position adopted by the Management Board on 6th December. The Council resolved that:
“The FLP would not support any unlawful act. However, the Party would engage in resolving the national crisis after executive authority was handed back to the President.
It was further agreed that a resolution to the crisis be found within the framework of the 1997 Constitution.”
In a media release issued after the Council meeting, FLP called for “a swift return to democratic rule and the handing back of executive authority to the President. It offered to assist in every way possible in charting a roadmap for the restoration of effective democratic rule.
On 4 January 2007, the Army handed executive authority back to the President. In line with the mandate of the National Council, when approached by the President to assist steer the nation back to democracy through good governance and economic recovery, three senior executives of the Party accepted positions within the interim administration.
The understanding at the time was that Fiji would return to general elections and democratic rule within two years. In August 2008, the FLP ministers resigned from the Cabinet to prepare for elections, expected to be held in March 2009.
This as we all now know, did not happen Instead, on 9 April 2009, the Constitution was abrogated, the judiciary was dismissed and the Public Emergency Regulations were imposed banning all political activities and imposing rigorous censorship on the media.
The Fiji Labour Party issued a statement denouncing these adverse developments.
So where in all this does Wadan Narsey’s conspiracy/silence theory fit in? It is unfortunate that Dr Narsey continues to allow his political prejudices to colour his writings on the Fiji Labour Party. He insists on sticking to his myopic views despite all evidence to the contrary, often distorting and misrepresenting facts, to support his lopsided theories.
1999 is a long way back, Dr Narsey. Isn’t it time to put the bitterness and the frustrations of defeat behind you?