BAINIMARAMA OFF MARK ON UN PRESENTATION

Editorial

FijiSUN

SUVA, Fiji (Sept. 22, 2008 ) - Interim prime minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has revealed his intention to promote the draft People’s Charter as the way forward for Fiji in his address to the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He will also hold talks with other national leaders which will include the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manhoman Singh and Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma during the course of this meeting.

The prime minister will be accompanied by the head of the Technical and Support Secretariat, John Samy, who will be the adviser in the Fiji delegation to New York to assist on People’s Charter related matters.

Is it really necessary for the Prime Minister to promote the charter at the United Nations General Assembly? He had already said that he would not bow down to international pressure or even to donor countries and institutions for his government to hold elections by March 2009.

In his address at the 62nd UN General Assembly, he had said of his intention to make the necessary legal changes in the area of electoral reform, to ensure true equality at the polls. At present, all citizens have the right to vote for two candidates, one for a national seat of any ethnicity, and another from a communal race based seat. What is the real intention behind the promotion?

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon reiterated previous UN calls for an immediate restoration of constitutional democracy in a statement on 5 January 2007. The UN stand on Fiji has never changed. On his meeting with Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth secretary-general, he had this message: "My message will be that agreements that are made of a political nature across a broad front are the ones that are likely to hold the best and I have a personal representative who is assisting in the formation of this broad front. Sir Paul Reeves has been visiting there and has been meeting with all possible interlocutors ... political parties, churches, civil societies and the chiefs, so they can all of them can agree to one process which will then have an outcome which becomes sustainable for Fiji for all time. This is what I would like to emphasise."

It would be better for the PM to promote the charter locally and to see that it is accepted by the people before going abroad. Surely there is a lot of cleaning up needed on his home turf and this is important.

The UN and the Commonwealth want to see Fiji return to parliamentary democracy in the constitutional manner and nothing else. The way forward now is unconstitutional, especially when many constitutional changes are involved. Let us begin with the process at home. This process will need dialogue with political leaders with the specific objective to arrive at a unanimous agreement on the way forward for the nation. Once this is done we can then let the United Nations and others know.

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