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Tuilaepa chides embattled Fiji military commander

By Tupuola Terry Tavita PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Nov. 24, 2009) – In Samoa, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has repeated his ‘open invitation’ to Fiji interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama to visit Samoa.

"This is my third invitation to Bani and [it] is open through 2010," Tuilaepa chuckles.

"Why 2010, because it will be four years since his military coup and the people of Fiji are itching for a stable, democratic and representative government. He has to leave politics and government and move back to the military barracks in the next twelve months."

Retrospectively, the Prime Minister mused:

"Frankly, I feel for him as these silly moves he’s recently made towards New Zealand and Australia ha[ve] only successfully served to completely alienate him from everyone else. To the point where no one wants to talk to him anymore."

But Bainimarama is "after all my Pacific Island blood brother," said the Prime Minister.

"That is why I keep asking him to come over. As everyone shuns him, and probably detest[s] his presence— an international pariah by every means— my door is always open to my brother Bani. I want to help him. He is third generation Samoan and I think it’s about time he comes home. He’s done enough damage to Fiji."

The Prime Minister said that he is saddened by reports that the Fiji government, and subsequently the people of Fiji, "is facing huge financial problems."

"It really breaks my heart that a Samoan could be the source of such misery for the people of Fiji."

One economic arrangement he could arrange with Bainimarama, if he accepts his invitation, is for Samoa to set up an RSE (Recognized Seasonal Employment) scheme with Fiji.

"You see, we have thousands of acres of coconut plantations. But there is a severe labour scarcity here as most of our people prefer the more difficult challenge of climbing apple trees and picking apples."

"I think those thousands of now unemployed Fijian soldiers would make good plantation workers. Yes...Bani’s now defunct army will make excellent coconut collectors.

"As for the top echelon of Bani’s army, well we have an excellent working environment and facilities at our Tafaigata plantation."

"It’s definitely a much more respectable — certainly dignified — job than putting on an army uniform and bullying unarmed civilians. Arm twisting the poor media."

Also, he added, "Having so many unemployed soldiers walking around the streets of Fiji could pose explosive problems for Bani’s government. And we all don’t want that."

Shaking his head, "I certainly hope my brother is sleeping well at night."

The Prime Minister said that he had "listened with a heavy heart" to reports that the Commodore was having difficulty putting together a judiciary in Fiji. "The independent judiciary, of course, is the cornerstone of the state— the underpinning of law and order in any country."

Tuilaepa said that he has a solution to Bainimarama’s judicial woes.

"Bani need not go so far to Sri Lanka to seek court judges. You see, lawyers is one commodity Samoa has in oversupply. I already have two in mind that certainly would make excellent judges in Bani’s court. I would strongly recommend Olinda Woodroffe who has very good money skills and my good friend Toailoa Solomona who occasionally dabbles in politics. Exactly the sort of lawyers my brother Bani needs.

And Bani need not thank me, it’s the least we can do to thank him for his continuous support for Samoa’s tourism industry."

The Prime Minister said he would also recommend to Bainimarama the services of Satupaitea MP Asiata Saleimoa.

"He has a PHD in Law and everybody knows he is the most learned lawyer in town. However, it may be difficult for Bani to get the services of this studious student of the law in Samoa. I have heard he is now a leading contender for the vacant post of Cardinal of the Catholic Church. I have also heard he continues to regret making the mistake of going into politics when it’s clearly not his vocation.

So you see we have such a wealth of top-notch lawyers in Samoa. All Bani needs to do is ask."

The Prime Minister added he has "a few more tricks up his sleeve to divulge to Bani."

"But this dialogue through the media is not the sensible way to communicate with dictators…come to Samoa and I’ll tell you all about it."

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