Fiji Sun

SUVA, Fiji (September 30, 2009) – Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is out to make changes. He intends to bring about his vision of a new and better Fiji.

If Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma had any doubts about that, he should no more. Commodore Bainimarama made his intentions clear in their meeting in New York last weekend.

Firstly, Commodore Bainimarama reiterated to Mr. Sharma that reforms have to take place before any general election is called.

That means the 2014 election date is not going to change.

Commodore Bainimarama also told Sharma, that the Public Emergency Regulation is still going to be implemented. It would only be lifted once stability is guaranteed.

Commodore Bainimarama is paving a road to the new Fiji he and his Government envision.

Where racial barriers do not exist and people despite their race, colour or religion are united as one.

For that, Commodore Bainimarama wants no political interference in the reforms that are going to take place.

He made this clear to Mr Sharma too. Former Prime Ministers Laisenia Qarase and Mahendra Chaudhry are not part of his Government’s roadmap.

Commodore Bainimarama clearly laid out his Government’s plans. These, he made absolutely clear, are not going to change.

If Australia and New Zealand, and organisations like the Commonwealth, European Union and Pacific Islands Forum want to engage with Fiji they would do well to take heed.

In case they haven’t noticed, Commodore Bainimarama and his Government are totally unmoved by their pressures.

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces are similarly unmoved.

The majority of people of Fiji are meanwhile getting on with life as usual. Tourists are finding Fiji is a lot safer and more welcoming than some of the countries which criticise Fiji.

And as we rapidly approach three years since the ousting of the Qarase Government, there is no indication that this is going to change.

One big change though is Fiji is building new international partnerships and relationships. It is looking increasingly to Asia, and even as far as the Middle East and Cuba.

If Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the Commonwealth want to play a meaningful role in Fiji’s future, they are the ones who need to rethink their stance.

They need to start taking a new tack if they want to be involved.

Like it or not, they need to engage with rather than try to isolate Commodore Bainimarama, his Government and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces

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