Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Oct. 22, 2008) - Political leaders must be commended for their decision to join a forum which may very well determine Fiji’s future.

We must not forget that the invitation extended by the interim Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, is perhaps the key to the return to democracy which is essential for the return of normalcy.

Whether the political leaders still maintain the confidence of the electorate remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that the people want better standards of living, efficient delivery of utilities, affordable education and health services and secure futures for themselves and their children.

This is what is important for the immediate future. It is why the People’s Charter teams have been inundated with questions about basic issues which affect the pockets of the ordinary citizen.

When our political leaders gather, they must set aside their ideological differences and look first at ways in which to ease the lives of the common people. These issues must remain firmly in their minds as they attempt to chart a course for the nation.

If the interim administration is serious about its attempts to build a better Fiji, its representatives will enter the dialogue with open minds and focus on the way forward rather than dragging up the past.

The longer we remain fixated on the errors of the past and seek retribution, the more difficult it becomes to move towards the future.

Every political representative at this forum must keep this in mind.

History has shown that political discussion in this nation have been fraught with difficulties. These have usually been brought about by people and parties with fixed ideas and who are unwilling to make compromises.

The interim administration and political parties must realize that meaningful dialogue can only eventuate when everyone is willing to concede a little to the other. This is no time for hardened attitudes and pontificating on previous failures. Nor is it time to seek redress for wrongs - perceived or otherwise - committed by this regime or any other administration.

That will be for elected representative of the people to discuss.

We believe it is important that a neutral moderator respected by and acceptable to all parties - be found to facilitate this dialogue.

We would also implore politicians to take that important step towards statesmanship made by Sitiveni Rabuka and Jai Ram Reddy almost 10 years ago and set aside differences for the benefit of the people and the nation.

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