Fiji Military Reiterates Commitments To Unifying Country

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Commander says all reforms made towards a ‘true democracy’

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 20, 2012) – Fiji's military has vowed to ensure that the country's new constitution will incorporate what the interim government sees as the achievements of its 2006 military coup.

With the Constitution Commission set to hand in its final report to the President on Friday, the military says it has its own ideas on what the constitution should contain.

Land Forces Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that the military government remained determined "to integrate the Fijian society as one, make everybody patriotic to Fiji."

"That is our biggest target and it’s the biggest challenge that we've had in the last couple of elections, and we want to see that carried through before the next election comes," Colonel Tikoitoga said. And it has to be incorporated in the constitution for that to happen."

Colonel Tikoitoga says that unlike previous coups of 1987 and 2000, which he claims gave rise to governments that supported discriminatory policies, the 2006 military takeover was an attempt to support an integrated society.

"Even though it will be argued that the process [of the 2006 coup] was not right, but nobody else could have righted the wrongs that have been done in the past," he said.

"And we've done all the reforms that's been necessary for a true democracy. We're changing it for the better and I think it should be appreciated.

"I always tell the people here, maybe historians 50 years from today will write that it was actually the military that actually changed the face of democracy in Fiji and made it better."

Colonel Tikoitoga says the military has made it clear to other groups that it would not support them in any personal, ethnic or political agendas if they were to be elected.

"We want to leave the governance of the country to a proper parliamentary role," he said.

Fiji historian Dr. Brij Lal, from the Australian National University, said the military statement contained "all kinds of contradictions and ironies."

"The military is 99 percent ethnic Fijian and you are entrusting the military, this indigenous Fijian institution, to create and sustain a multiracial democracy - seems to me to be a bit problematic," Dr. Lal said.

"It sounds very nice - the military committed to creating a genuine multiracial democracy, religiously tolerant, new Fiji and so on - but the fine print is problematic."

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