Fiji PM Dismisses Opposition Calls For Dialogue

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Bainimarama: ‘No critical issues facing the nation’

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 24, 2015) – Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says there are no critical issues facing the nation.

He made this comment as he responded to a call from Opposition member and National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad for Mr Bainimarama to have a dialogue with Opposition party leaders.

Prof Prasad proposed the need to discuss "critical issues", which should include a review of the 2013 Constitution and to repeal all decrees from next year.

In response, Mr Bainimarama said: "Tell him (Prof Prasad) there is no critical issue that faces the nation."

"And anything to do with the Constitution, he (Prof Prasad) can jump in the deepest pool with Ro Teimumu."

Mr Prasad said it was unfortunate for the PM to make such a "childish" comment about a genuine approach for dialogue and discussion.

"The NFP reiterates its call which we made very early during the term of Parliament and that is for the Government to consider dialogue with the two Opposition parties," he said.

"I reiterate my call to the Prime Minister to initiate dialogue with me and Ro Teimumu on some of these critical issues. We are happy to work with him to address some of these fundamental issues so that come 2018, we can genuinely call ourselves a genuine democracy."

Prof Prasad added the international community should not ignore the fact that Fiji had not made much progress on achieving genuine democracy.

"They (international community) must note this, they cannot pretend that things are hunky-dory and so it's important that they reassess their engagement and their support for parliamentary democracy in Fiji."

In response, Ro Teimumu claimed the 2013 Constitution remained an imposed Constitution and if Mr Bainimarama did not want to talk about it, he should put it to test and conduct a referendum.

"Only then can it be the people's Constitution and so long as he (PM) avoids testing its popularity with the people and giving them the opportunity to give their verdict, it remains imposed," she said.

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