Fiji President—History Must Not Be Repeated; No More Coups

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Fiji President—History Must Not Be Repeated; No More Coups Ratu Epeli: ‘We gather… to establish genuine democratic rule’

By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 7, 2014) – Fiji’s Head of State, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says the taking over of elected Governments in Parliament at gunpoint should never be repeated.

He made these comments as he officially opened Parliament today at Government Buildings in Suva.

He adds the historical significance of what Fijians witnessed today cannot be overstated.

"We gather in a chamber that has seen some of the greatest events in Fijian history.

These include the meetings of the legislative council in colonial times that set the scene for our independence from Britain.

"At 10.00 am on May the fourteenth, 1987, a group of soldiers entered the parliament, stopped the proceedings and herded the newly-elected government of Dr Timoci Bavadra away at gunpoint.

"It was the first of four disruptions to elected government and the beginning of a cycle of instability that has plagued our nation and retarded its development.

It is a chapter in our history that must never be repeated," Rt Epeli said.

He says the walls of the refurbished Parliament have echoed voices of the great historical figures who fought for Fijians rights and those who led Fiji to nationhood.

He mentioned Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, AD Patel, Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau, Siddiq Koya, Dr Timoci Bavadra, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, Julian Toganivalu, Semesa Sikivou, Douglas Brown, Bill Yee, Loma Livingstone, Adi Losalini Dovi, and Irene Jay Narayan as those that spoke to Fijians across the decades.

"They speak to us across the decades today urging us to complete the task they started in this place with so many other men and women of goodwill, who are no longer with us but who we also remember with gratitude.

"Regrettably, this chamber was also the setting for one of the most traumatic and painful events in our history, whose impact lingers with us almost three decades on.

"Now, 27 years later, we gather at the site of that first coup to establish genuine democratic rule.

And to finally draw a line under the years of division that have held Fiji back and herald in a new era of unity and purpose." He said the symbolism of returning Fiji’s parliament to its current place at Government Buildings was extremely potent.

"History has today come full circle.

God has blessed us with another chance to build one nation.

"Let us dedicate ourselves once and for all to the democratic ideal – of genuine equality for all Fijians.

And resolve to work constructively in our new democracy and in this refurbished parliament for the benefit of all our people."

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