The amendments to the already draconian Political Parties Decree reveal the regime’s pathological fear of existing political parties, says former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.
It imposes a $50,000 fine or a prison term of up to five years, on any media organization that dares to refer to a group or organization as a political party unless the party is registered under Decree 4 of 2013.
“This is absolutely insane – it is taking Decree 4 to ridiculous lengths and simply underscores the regime’s fear of anything that can be termed a ‘political party’,’’ said Mr Chaudhry.
The regime’s intention is now quite clear – and that is, to wipe out in name and existence all political parties. It wants no opposition to its designs towards creating an autocratic, despotic, one-party State.
The manner in which the entire process is evolving should be a matter of concern to the international community as it completely negates assurances given to them by Prime Minister Bainimarama that the process back to constitutional rule would be “inclusive, participatory and democratic”.
It is hardly likely, under such repressive environment, that any future general election held in Fiji will be free and fair.
The PER may have been lifted but the regime continues to govern through fear and intimidation as is evident by the very severe penalties imposed for breach of Decrees 4 and 11 of 2013.
But, if this unelected regime thinks it can wipe out every trace of political parties that have existed in Fiji for decades, it is mistaken. These parties were formed freely by the people and are held dear to their hearts and minds.
They cannot be emasculated at the stroke of a pen or through fear and intimidation. This was clearly manifest in the willingness and eagerness with which thousands of people came forward to sign registration forms.
It shows not only their support for political parties but also the earnest desire of the people of Fiji to return to democratic and constitutional rule.
19 February 2013