Labour slams President’s decision to scrap army inquiry

  • 20th July 2004
  • 2004
  • // Display comment count + link

The Labour Party has branded as hypocrisy a call by the President and the Prime Minister for respect for the rule of law regarding their decision to call off an inquiry into allegations against the army commander.

President Josefa Iloilo last week turned down a government decision to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations that army chief Frank Bainimarama wanted to overthrow the government last December.

While other political parties welcomed the President’s stand, Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry described the decision as “unstable” and criticised the government for vacillating on important policy decisions.

In response, the President and Prime Minister put out separate full page advertisements in the papers explaining their decision and calling on the people to show respect for the rule of law.

Mr Chaudhry said such calls by the two executive office holders sounded hollow given their own record of defying the constitution and not adhering to the rule of law.

Below is the full text of Mr. Chaudhry’s statement:

“Neither the President nor the Prime Minister has shown much respect for, or adherence to, the rule of law in their own political dealings in the past four years. The Fiji Labour Party, has been and continues to be, a specific victim of their defiance for the rule of law and constitutional provisions.

The Prime Minister is deliberately side-stepping the Constitution to keep the Fiji Labour Party out of government. His preposterous proposal now for a 36-member Cabinet to serve his own interests, is in gross defiance of all the principles of good governance.

As for the President, how can the nation forget the farce he enacted in March 2001 when he appointed Ratu Tevita Momoedonu prime minister for 24 hours in order to dismiss the legitimate People’s Coalition Government.

In so doing, he acted in deliberate defiance of the constitution. He had also blatantly ignored the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal on the validity of the constitution.

The army and the interim administration of Laisenia Qarase were party to this orchestrated move to deny the rights of a democratically elected government to continue in office.

Sanctimonious statements by the two executive office holders now calling for respect for the rule of law, therefore, rings hollow and does not fool the nation.

Leaders must rule by example and both the Prime Minister and the President must realise that they cannot take refuge in the rule of law simply when it suits their purpose and ignore it at whim when they want to,” Mr. Chaudhry said.