The People’s Coalition Government expresses grave concern at the setting up of the interim administration by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo this morning. Given the current circumstances we are surprised at the haste with which the President’s Office has moved to set in place this new administration.

We have been gratified to see the efforts of the Fiji Military Forces during the past 48 hours to restore law and order and in particular to take steps to deal with those elements who continue to terrorise and destabilise our community. This initiative of the FMF should be allowed to continue so as to provide adequate time for the President to consult widely with all political parties and communities.

Unfortunately the President’s advisers have failed to consider a number of other options available to them, in particular the option of a Government of National Unity, which the People’s Coalition proposed, directly to the President’s Office on Thursday 20th July. We regard it as most unfortunate that the President’s Office has failed to hold consultations with the elected government about this very viable alternative political arrangement that is consistent with the 1997 Constitution.

We are especially concerned that the interim administration, which has been set up today, is outside the framework of the 1997 Constitution. In this regard no account has been taken of the International realities facing our country, notably that the international community will not tolerate any political configuration that flies in the face of universally accepted standards of justice, democracy and equality.

The composition of the interim government is discriminatory. It effectively disenfranchises the Indo-Fijian community who compromise around 44 percent of the population. In effect it is an open invitation to the international community to impose further sanctions against Fiji.

Another obvious shortcoming of the interim administration lineup is that it enjoys no mandate from the people. Indeed, there is negligible representation of the elected representatives. It is very evident that the interim administration offends the fundamental tenets of basic parliamentary democracy and accountable government. As an administration made up exclusively of ethnic Fijians it represents a disturbing capitulation to one of the key demands of the terrorist group led by Mr. Speight.

For this and other reasons we believe that the appointment of the interim administration cannot and will not solve the current crisis. It cannot be expected to restore security, peace and law and order to our beloved country. Nor will it regain for Fiji the respect and recognition of the international community, salvage our economy and win back the confidence of investors, both at home and abroad.

The People’s Coalition Government firmly believes that Government of National Unity (GNU) as provided for in the 1997 Constitution, offers Fiji a legitimate and viable solution to the ongoing crisis. Such a political compromise would not only be consistent with the Constitution, it would also enjoy the support of our people.

Cabinet would comprise all parties represented in the current Parliament, including those parties representing sectional indigenous interests. It would retain the existing spirit of a truly multi-ethnic and multi-party Cabinet. It would also take into account the concerns of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (GCC) at its two recent meetings.

This political compromise of a Government of National Unity proposed by the elected People’s Coalition Government is offered in the spirit of goodwill and in the national interest.

A Government of National Unity would re-establish political stability, peace and law and order to our country and help decisively to restore confidence in our economy. Equally important, it would be acceptable to the international community as being consistent with the principles of constitutional government and democracy. Only by adopting a legitimate, fair, sustainable and honourable option such as the GNU can we expect to have all trade, aid, sporting and other sanctions lifted.

The nation now faces two options. The first, an administration with no national or international support that will prolong the suffering, deprivation and agony of our people. The second, a Government of National Unity under the 1997 Constitution that enjoys national and international acceptance and recognition and which will set us on the path of constitutional rule, economic recovery and national reconciliation. To do otherwise would be tantamount to endorsing the act of terrorism unleashed upon our country on 19th May.

The People’s Coalition believes that the President has missed a golden opportunity to solve the crisis that has besieged our country for the past two months and caused so much unnecessary suffering, pain and hardship to our people. We respectfully call upon him to reconsider his decision. We ask him to have courage and vision to seize this moment in history to reclaim peace, dignity and respect for our multi-ethnic and peace-loving community.

Dr. Tupeni Baba Deputy Prime Minister People’s Coalition Government Tel: (679) 301-802 Mobile: 965-781

Statement released by: Dale Keeling Media Secretary (Overseas) Leader of the People's Coalition P.O. Box 78 Balmain, NSW, 2041 AUSTRALIA

Email:  Ph: (61 2) 9810 1336 Mob: (0414) 806 784 Fax: (61 2) 9555 1252

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