#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-08-30

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Anand Singh wants to replace Sayed-Khaiyum

Anand Singh, who was Fiji's Attorney-General between 1999 and 2000 is interested in replacing Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the regime.

Singh was the lawyer for Natadola Bay Resorts Ltd - a subsidiary of Fiji National Provident Fund- until he was dismissed by the new FNPF Board at the end of June.

Sayed-Khaiyum has been given a letter by the military council advising him his services are no longer needed but so far his boss Frank Bainimarama has not taken any action to remove his trusted ally from office.

Singh was also a Fiji Labour Party Senator and the party's legal advisor.

He was replaced as FLP lawyer by party leader Mahendra Chaudhry's son, Rajendra Chaudhry.

Singh is currently without a job.

Pro regime media don't believe in suspension

Fiji's pro-regime media, the Fiji Sun newspaper and State owned Radio Fiji say they will await official notification from the Commonwealth to Fiji before confirming the nation's full suspension.

This is despite the fact that the statement regarding the suspension is on the Commonwealth website and has been reported by regional and international media.

Meanwhile Fiji Times and Fiji Television were apparently prevented by the regime's censors from carrying reports about the suspension.

Fiji TV's news bulletin on Wednesday did not have any stories about the suspension or reactions from stakeholders.

The Fiji Times edition on Thursday also did not have any stories.

On Thursday evening, Fiji TV carried a brief report about the suspension, reporting on the statement from Commonwealth Secretary General Kamlesh Sharma.

Fiji Tourism suffers

The travel brochures might depict a tropical paradise but the climate for tourism in Fiji's famous Denarau Island appears to be turning chilly.

The latest figures show Australians and New Zealanders are staying away from the resort hot spot in droves.

Visitor arrivals to Fiji are down 30% compared to this time last year and occupancy rates sit below 50%, a drop from the healthy 70% average seen in previous years.

Visitors to five-star resorts like those on Denarau are most deterred, despite massive discounts of up to 80% offered on stays at classy hotels and flight deals designed to counter the slide.

On top of this, three major developments on the island have hit trouble in recent months, including receivership of a Hilton resort extension that was funded by dozens of Australian and New Zealand investors.

The problem is multi-faceted.

Terrible January floods deterred thousands from visiting over summer and the global economic downturn has undeniably put a dampener on Pacific tourism.

The country's political leadership by a military regime has also taken a toll.

Self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has refused to heed Australia and New Zealand's advice and return the country to democracy before his chosen election date of 2014.

The result has been suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum , the cutting of aid funding from the European Union and, just this week, ousting from the Commonwealth .

Dr Steven Ratuva, a Fiji academic at the University of Auckland, says politics plays a big part in Fiji's tourism slump.

"The regime might not like to think so but the coup and the unsettling relationship between Australia and New Zealand and the Fijian government is undoubtedly putting people off visiting," Ratuva says.

"It's not that it's unstable there. It's actually quite fine at the moment.

"But people don't like the rift and have a lurking fear things could boil up."

He says tourism is an extremely sensitive industry, and even though the suspensions do not alter security in Fiji, it affects the "imagination" of tourists.

"They imagine something has changed and that's enough to stop them going."

The paradox is that a 2007 survey showed Fiji was one of the top 10 marketable names in the world, with several European businesses using the word to benefit from "romantic" connotations.

"And yet you have Fiji itself struggling to use the benefits of that very sellable name to generate economic benefits," Ratuva says - TVNZ

NFP labels suspension shameful

Fiji's oldest political party in Fiji says the nation's two key parties are at last realising their future - and that of the country - lies in a return to democracy.

The National Federation Party was the main Opposition Party in the early 90s but was wiped out by the Fiji Labour Party in 1999.

NFP President Raman Singh, says both the Labour Party of Mahendra Chaudry and the SDL Party of Laisenia Qarase, gained from supporting the 2006 coup.

The NFP President says interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is leading the regime into a well and truly power hungry dictatorship to entrench itself in power for as long as possible.

He says if Bainimarama has the welfare of the nation at heart, then he will enter into genuine political dialogue with all stakeholders to rescue Fiji from what he calls a quagmire.

He concludes that the onus is on Bainimarama to either redeem himself or find himself as a King without a Kingdom.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Australia's stand on Fiji

Australia's foreign minister Stephen Smith says Fiji’s full suspension from the Commonwealth is the sad but inevitable result of the failure of Commodore Bainimarama to return Fiji to democracy.

In July, the Commonwealth provided the Commodore and his regime with a final opportunity to commit to a prompt return to democracy.

Instead, the military regime has restated its position that elections will not be held until 2014 – more than seven years after the December 2006 coup.

Smith said this is completely unacceptable.

This suspension follows Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum in May this year.

"In line with the Commonwealth, the Pacific Islands Forum, the European Union and the United Nations, Australia continues to be very concerned about human rights abuses by the regime, particularly the reduced independence of the judiciary, media censorship, intimidation of opponents, and the recent harassment of Methodist Church leaders," he said.

"Increased international pressure is necessary and the full suspension from the Commonwealth is another strong message from the international community that the military regime must work with political stakeholders in Fiji and the international community to return Fiji to democracy and the rule of law."

He said despite the increasing international pressure on the military regime, Australia will continue to offer support to the people of Fiji including through the continuation of our development assistance program.

"As the Government has already made plain, Australia stands ready to provide support to a credible dialogue process and I welcome the planned visit by a Commonwealth delegation to Fiji later this month," Smith said.

He said Australia also remains ready to provide support to the electoral process in Fiji if Commodore Bainimarama finally heeds the call of the Commonwealth and the Forum and his own citizens and commits to a credible election process.

Chaudhry criticises Bainimarama's roadmap

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry says interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama's roadmap to democracy isn't acceptable to the people of Fiji and is pushing for early elections.

Chaudhry told Radio New Zealand this morning that there was no consultation when the roadmap was being put into place and people were not asked about what they thought of it.

He told New Zealand's state broadcaster that dialogue was needed and you can just dictate to the country.

Chaudhry and Qarase have jointly written to Bainimarama and the Commonwealth calling for the international community to help take Fiji to early elections.

Chaudhry said he hopes Sir Paul Reeves visit to Fiji next week will result in early elections.

Sir Paul is visiting as a special representative of the Commonwealth.

Fiji was suspended from the organisation on Tuesday after failing to come up with a date for elections next year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Teleni to become interim Minister?

Sources are gathering information about a major reshuffle involving the military, police and the regime's interim cabinet.

Coupfourpointfive has been told Colonel Mohammed Aziz is likely to become the new Commissioner of Police to replace Esala Teleni.

Teleni is being earmarked to become interim Defence Minister in place of former commander Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Sources say Ganilau is being eyed for a diplomatic posting.

Is Pita Driti on leave?

Sources say the Land Force Commander of the Fiji Military Forces Colonel Pita Driti has been sent on leave once again.

We've been told his absence from the Queen Elizabeth Barracks came on the orders of army commander Frank Bainimarama. In July Driti was forced to go on leave but returned to work after three days.

Coupfourpointfive has been told in the latest case of sabre-rattling Driti was sent on leave after he engineered a military council decision to try and terminate interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayd-Khaiyum.

Sources confirmed a letter has been given to Sayed-Khaiyum by the military council.

Driti is also believed to be unhappy that Colonel Mohammed Aziz is the acting commander while Frank Bainimarama is in Malaysia.

SCC pulls plug on New Methodists

We can confirm that the Suva City Council's department in charge of hiring out Sukuna Park cut off electricity in the middle of a sermon at the New Methodist Church Crusade last Friday because the preaching was loud and noisy.

Coupfourpointfive has been told that SCC staff refused to re-connect the power despite threats from the Church preachers.

Sources say the SCC officer in charge of administering parks and properties told a security officer to turn down the volume of the speakers used for preaching as he could hear the loud noise almost 100 metres away. This was done twice but the preachers increased the volume to intolerable levels on both occasions.

The security officer was then told to disconnect the power supply. All the officer had to do was to pull off a fuse that is in-built into the permanent podium at the park.

Sources say five angry New Methodist Church preachers barged into the office of the properties officer demanding that the electricity supply be restored.

They told him that Sukuna Park and the electricity belonged to Jesus similar to Police Commissioner Esala Teleni's claim that the Holy Spirit speaks to him.

The preachers were told to test their own theory by the properties officer - that is to go back to Sukuna Park, throw the wires on the ground and tell Jesus to connect the power.

The power supply was not restored, both by the Holy Spirit or the SCC.

FSC records $36.8m loss

The Fiji Sugar Corporation has recorded a massive loss of $36.8 million for is financial year which ended 31st May 2009.

This does not include the losses incurred due to numerous mill breakdowns since the start of the 2009 crushing season.

In a statement the FSC chief executive officer Deo Saran said the losses have increased by $17.5 million compared to the last financial year.

Saran blames foreign exchange fluctuations for the loss saying it impacted on the $85 million Exim Bank of India loan for the mill upgrade program.

But he should have blamed the 20% devaluation for it as well as the extremely poor performance of the mills, plus declining cane and sugar production.

For the 2008 season FSC's four mills crushed 2.37 million tonnes of cane and produced 207,000 tonnes of sugar.

In 2007 the mills crushed 2.48 millions of tonne producing 237,000 tonnoes of sugar.

This year FSC hopes to produce 240,000 tonnes of sugar but the cane crush and sugar production is expected to decline even further from last season.

The cane farmers of Fiji have been hit hard after the military coup forced the European Union to cancel its $350 million in financial aid to them.

View FSC Accounts - http://www.mediafire.com/?iwnmjmjtdjy

Commonwealth decision at a glance

The decision by the Commonwealth to fully suspend Fiji was announced overnight by its secretary-general, Kamalesh Sharma.
It was expected after interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said he was sticking to his road map and elections would be held 2014, not 2010.

Key points:

1) There was regret and sorrow but the Ministerial Action Group felt it had no choice
2) The ministerial group has been trying since the 2006 coup to help Fiji move towards constitutional democracy
3) Sharma says Frank Bainimarama wrote to him on August the 21st and he replied August the 24, just over a week ago
4) He says Bainimarama signalled he was committed to the principles of the Commonwealth but it wasn't enough
5) He says Fiji's been told of the decision and so has the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth.
6) Other Commonwealth governments have also been notified.
7) The suspension is the second for Fiji.
8) It was expelled from the Commonwealth in 1987, but was readmitted 10 years later. 9) It was also suspended in 2000 for 18 months.
10)The only other country to have been fully suspended from the group is Nigeria, during the rule of General Sani Abacha in 1995.

Fiji suspended from Commonwealth: full statement

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has announced the Republic of the Fiji Islands stands fully suspended from membership of the Commonwealth with immediate effect.

“This is an announcement I make with deep regret - it is a step the Commonwealth is now obliged to take, and one that it takes in sorrow.”

“Since Fiji was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth following the military overthrow of civilian government in December 2006, sustained efforts have been made by the Commonwealth to engage the Interim Government, so as to promote a return to constitutional democracy, and to encourage a national dialogue aimed at tackling the underlying issues that led to this and past coups.”

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last met on 31 July, some two and three quarter years after the military overthrow. At that meeting, CMAG urged the Fiji regime to reactivate immediately the President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations, in a manner that was independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and that would lead to credible elections in the country by October 2010.

CMAG had sought a firm commitment from Fiji to these terms by no later than 1 September 2009, failing which it would be fully suspended.

"Although I received a letter from Commodore Bainimarama on 21 August reaffirming his commitment to the principles of the Commonwealth, his response did not meet the terms set out by CMAG on 31 July. I informed him of this in writing on 24 August."

"Accordingly, Fiji has today been fully suspended from the Commonwealth. I have informed the Interim Prime Minister of Fiji of this decision. I have similarly informed Her Majesty the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth, and all Commonwealth governments.”

Elaborating on the implications of “full suspension”, the Secretary-General said the following provisions would apply with immediate effect:

-representatives of the Interim Government of Fiji will be excluded from participation at all inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings; likewise, nominees of the Interim Government will not be able to take part in other inter-governmental Commonwealth activities;

-Fiji will not be able to participate in Commonwealth sporting events;
no Commonwealth technical assistance can be provided to Fiji, with the exception of assistance aimed at facilitating the restoration of democracy;

-while Fiji will remain a member of the Commonwealth, all emblematic representation of Fiji at the Commonwealth Secretariat, at Commonwealth meetings and all other official Commonwealth events will cease;

-and contact at professional and non-governmental levels with Fiji counterparts will be left to the discretion of individual pan-Commonwealth organisations.

The Secretary-General emphasised that the Commonwealth remained open to engaging with the Fiji Interim Government towards the restoration of constitutional democracy in the country.

“I welcome the invitation from Commodore Bainimarama to meet my Special Representative in Fiji in September, and look forward to continuing my good offices engagement to promote adherence to Commonwealth principles and the welfare of the people of Fiji”, Mr Sharma said.

The Secretary-General concluded by expressing the hope that Fiji would take the necessary steps to restore its full participation in the Commonwealth.

“We will continue all possible efforts to promote the restoration of Commonwealth principles and enduring adherence to them. We will also continue to bear fully in mind the welfare of the people of Fiji.”

Monday, August 31, 2009

Regime suppresses Bogileka drink incident

The Administrator for Nasinu Town Council and former minister in Mahendra Chaudhry's 1999 government Meli Bogileka spent two nights in a police cell at Valelevu Police Station more than a week ago after being arrested for drink driving.

Sources have confirmed in the early hours of Saturday 22nd August, Bogileka was stopped by police less than a kilometre from the Nasinu Town Council office where he indulged in binge drinking throughout Friday night.

He was locked at Valelevu police station for two nights - 22nd August and 23rd August. He apparently appeared in the Valelevu Magistrates Court on Monday 24th August charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

However the news of Bogileka's arrest, detention and court appeaance has not been reported. Sources present at the Valelevu Court say the news media was present and the only conclusion is that the regime's censors did not allow the news story to be broadcast and published.

It will be interesting to see whether the regime's new Local Government Minister Colonel Samuela Saumatua will take action against Bogileka especially since the Council premises was used for a party.

Sayed Khaiyum in hot water

The regime's interim Attorney-General and military dictator Frank Bainimarama's trusted ally, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has been strangely silent for a fortnight.

He has not made any public statements nor has he made any public appearances.

Sources have confirmed he returned from Barbados and Brunei but has been keeping a low profile. Members of the public have failed to secure any appointments with him in regards to the ministerial protfolios he is holding in the regime.

Sources say Sayed-Khaiyum has been notified by the military council to exit the regime's interim Cabinet, similar to the ultimatum the Council gave to Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry in July last year.

According to sources, Bainimarama has been notified by the Council of its decision for Sayed-Khaiyum to relinquish his position as interim A-G or be sacked.

We will have more on this developing story in the next few days.

Dictator spreads his tentacles

The dictatorship regime's head and military commander Frank Bainimarama has strengthened his hold over key institutions in coup ravaged Fiji.

As interim Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Bainimarama is now Chairman of Native Land Trust Board, the organisation established in 1944 by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna to be guardians and custodians of native land in the country.

Bainimarama's appointment has been announced through Decree Number 31 titled Native Land Trust (Amendment) Decree of 2009. Previously the President was the NLTB Chairman. Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and retired President Ratu Josefa Iloilo were Chairmen of NLTB.

But the Decree issued by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau in his capacity as Vice-President and not Acting President changes that.

In what is further signs that the regime will not relinquish power, Bainimarama is now:

1. Interim PM
2. Interim Minister for Indigenous Affairs
3. Interim Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs
4. Interim Minister for Finance
5. Interim Minister for Sugar
6. Chairman of NLTB
7. Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs - if nd when it is constituted

Essentially, Banimarama is now controlling key institutons of both the Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities.

Commonwealth visit to Fiji won't affect suspension

A visit by the Commonwealth's special representative to Fiji won't affect tommorrow’s ultimatum for suspension.

The Commonwealth spokesman Eduardo del Buey says Fiji will be fully suspended from the body if it doesn’t come up with an 2010 date for elections by tomorrow.

Interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama invited the Commonwealth hoping the suspension threat could be held off until he’s met with Sir Paul Reeves.

Sir Paul Reeves is set to arrive in Fiji on September 9th for three days but details of his visit haven’t been finalised yet.