In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Fiji’s illegal interim prime minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has once again demonstrated his lack of understanding of what is acceptable or unacceptable to normal, law abiding, civilised societies of the Free World.
Commodore Bainimarama should understand that the Free World totally abhor the actions of aspiring dictators like him that go and overthrow democratically elected governments. He must therefore not expect the Free World to cosy up to him after what he has done.
Bainimarama sounds like a desperate man when he has to resort to the outrageous claims that he had to overthrew the SDL Party-Fiji Labour Party Coalition Government because politicians with links to terrorists were threatening the people of Fiji. The only people threatening the people of Fiji with terror techniques are his very own soldiers who come in the night and take people up to the barracks to torture and beat or even kill like Verebasaga and 19 year old Rabaka.
His constant use of the words “mismanagement”, “corruption” and “nepotism” are beginning to bore us when he says something and does exactly the opposite. If Bainimarama wants to talk mismanagement, he should look no further than his record as Commander of the Fiji Military Forces. A record littered with mismanagement, overblown budget, wastage and corruption as highlighted by the Auditor General’s Report of 2000-2005.
He must also come clean with Epeli Ganilau on their mismanagement of the Regimental Fund that so absurdly led to his appointment as Military Commander in the first place.
Then there is the controversy about the back paid salary paid to him and calculated based on a back date going back thirty years. If it is correct, then Bainimarama should come clean and publicly release the Auditor General’s investigation and report on the case.
Bainimarama dares talk about nepotism when he should put his house in order first. He just need to look at the continued employment of his elder brother Meli Bainimarama, as a senior public servant when he is almost seventy.
Then there is Timoci Bainimarama, over fifty five but still employed as head of the Bureau of Statistics, contravening his government’s policy of the 55 years retirement age in the Fiji Public Service.
Then there are the many senior military officers that supported his 2006 coup and now occupy well paid senior public service positions they are not qualified for or the re-employment of his brother in law Francis Kean as Fiji Naval Commander after serving prison time for manslaughter?
Bainimarama claims that “The basis for the new constitution will be the ideals and principles formulated by the People’s Charter for Change and Progress, a document prepared following widespread consultation with, and input from, the people of Fiji.” The whole world knows that this document was already drafted in New Zealand before the coup and came through the interim government via former interim finance minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudry.
The “widespread consultation and input of the people of Fiji” he claims has again demonstrated Bainimarama’s tendency to make wild claims and lies. How can there be widespread acceptance when major Fijian institutions such as the provincial councils, the Methodist Church and the SDL Party were not involved in the consultation. It is also a well known fact that many people were coerced into signing papers accepting the proposed Charter, especially public servants who faced the threats of being sacked if they refused to sign. There was also no independent audit of those consultation results.
Bainimarama’s claim of Fiji’s peculiar history is utter nonsense. Fiji is about as peculiar as many other multiracial society. The only peculiar thing about Fiji’s history is the Military’s involvement in one form or another in all coups that have taken place, including George Speight’s Coup.
Bainimarama must understand that the only way to resolve Fiji’s ongoing crisis is to return to the barracks, allow a civilian caretaker government to conduct the consultation needed to see whether reforms are needed and ensure these are implemented into the constitution under the ambit of the 1997 Constitution before organising a general election.
People should not take seriously, his repeated claims of Fiji being bullied by Australia and New Zealand. These two countries, if their actions can be interpreted as bullying, are taking actions against Bainimarama’s illegal government, not the Fijian State or the people of Fiji. Bainimarama and his
troops, on the other hand, have demonstrated in the last three years that they do not blink an eye whenever they bully and brutalise any Fijians that dare questions or challenge their actions.
The Australian and New Zealand stand of returning all Fijian soldiers serving in United Nations Mission has been the stand of the Movement from the date of its establishment. After all, the current situation is hypocrisy that borders on the absurd, when you have the very same military personnel that brutalises and bullies the citizens they were armed to protect and then be flown off to some other troubled spots of the world to maintain the peace there!
If Bainimarama is indeed a man of principle and righteousness as he so often likes to portray himself to be, then he should be man enough to return to the barracks and let an independent judiciary legally examine his actions and claims of the last three years. There will only be two outcome from it, jail or legitimisation!
If he does not have the integrity and principles to do that, then he should retreat to the barracks and continue his lectures and wild claims within the confines of his family and soldiers rather than embarrass us all at important places like the UN General Assembly.
Usaia P. Waqatairewa
President, Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement.