#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-09-06

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sir Paul Reeves Concludes Visit to Fiji

The Commonwealth's Special Representative Sir Paul Reeves has arrived back in New Zealand after a three day visit to Fiji.

At the invitation of the Interim Government, Sir Paul visited Fiji to explore opportunities for continued Commonwealth engagement with Fiji.

The objective of his visit was to support the early restoration of constitutional democracy in thecountry, in line with Commonwealth principles.

Speaking on the eve of his departure, Sir Paul said his discussions with the Interim Prime Minister, members of Cabinet and others had been cordial, frank and informative.

“While I do not wish to pre-empt my report to the Secretary-General, I can say that I depart Fiji with a clear understanding of the Interim Government’s plans for Fiji following the abrogation of the Constitution in April. I welcome the importance Fiji
attaches to its relationship with the Commonwealth, and the willingness of the Interim Prime Minister and his government to remain in discussions with me.

“I reiterated to Commodore Bainimarama and his Ministers that the Commonwealth stands ready to support an inclusive and time-bound national political dialogue, to facilitate the return of constitutional democracy. I also emphasised the importance
Commonwealth members place on the fundamental principles that underpin our organisation, including representative government, respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

The Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama conveyed to Sir Paul his government’s intention to implement the “Strategic Framework for Change” announced by him on 1 July 2009, which entails elections being held in 2014.

“I reminded Commodore Bainimarama that such an extended timeframe for the restoration of democracy was not one the Commonwealth could support”, Sir Paul said.

“In particular, I expressed my view that it is vital to re-start broad-based dialogue on electoral and constitutional issues as soon as possible, rather than delay this important work until 2012.”

Sir Paul said he was disappointed that he had been unable to meet with leaders of other political parties during this visit to Suva.

“In deference to the Interim Government of Fiji as my host, I complied with its specific request not to meet with 2 other political leaders. I remain convinced, however, that an inclusive national dialogue which recognises and respects the voices of all major political players is the only way Fiji can find its way back to a sustainable democracy."

"The Commonwealth will continue to listen to the viewpoints of all sectors of Fiji’s community and political life, in its efforts to assist Fiji resolve the current situation and find longterm solutions to its significant challenges.”

Sir Paul will provide a report to the Secretary-General on his discussions and findings, which will inform the Secretary-General’s briefing of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), and his consideration of the Commonwealth’s
ongoing engagement with Fiji.

During the visit Sir Paul met with Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, other members of the Interim Cabinet, government officials, and selected representatives from the private sector,
civil society and the diplomatic corps.

Sir Paul was accompanied by two senior officials from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Taito catches John Prasad's bluff

The Permanent Secretary for Finance John Prasad has been asked to submit his qualifications to PSC because he wants to become the chief executive of the $3.3 billion Fiji National Provident Fund.

Apart from his current position, Prasad is also the FNPF Chairman, Chairman of Fiji Water Authority, Chairman of Fiji Development Bank and Board Member of Air Terminal Services Ltd.

Prasad was employed as a consultant in Frank Bainimarama's office earning a salary of $120,000 per annum.

Sources say he has been plotting to become the FNPF CEO and shift the current CEO Aisake Taito to his Permanent Secretary for Finance position.

Coupfourpointfive has been told Aisake Taito became aware of Prasad's plans and told his wife Adi Elenoa Mara. Adi Elenoa is the younger sister of the military's 3rd infantry regiment commanding officer Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara(Roko Lui).

According to sources Adi Elenoa informed Roko Lui who asked PSC Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi to seek Prasad's formal qualifications and work experience.

Before migrating to New Zealand from Fiji, Prasad was employed as a laboratory technologist at Rewa Dairy Co-operative Ltd. Serulagilagi is currently also the Chairman of Rewa Dairy and no doubt would be aware of Prasad's qualification.

Sources say if Prasad is unable to convince the PSC, then he will forced to resign all his positions in the civil service and statutory organisations within a month.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bainimarama tells Commonwealth envoy no early elections

Fiji's interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has told the Commonwealth's Special Envoy to Fiji, Sir Paul Reeves of the government’s intention to restoring Parliamentary Democracy in the country by 2014.

Bainimarama was accompanied to the meeting by senior Cabinet Ministers, Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Civil Aviation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Minister for Education, Filipe Bole and Minister for Defence, National security and Immigration Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Bainimarama welcomed Sir Paul Reeves’s delegation and explained that his stand has not changed from the July 1st announcement on Fiji’s Strategic Framework of Change and Roadmap to Parliamentary Democracy.

He said their intention was to continue with the reforms first before elections in 2014. In fact the focus was really on development and reforms until 2012 when work on the Constitution begins.

Bainimarama further explained that his Government was determined to usher in the new changes and reshape the nation towards a destiny of peace, prosperity without raced based policies and politics.

He also said that Government wanted to reshape peoples perception and remove the legacy of previous administrations and colonial hangovers.

On whether the Government will continue with the Political party Dialogue, Commodore Bainimarama said they will resume with the initiative in due time.

Sir Paul Reeves replied that their visit to Fiji was of noble intention and really to continue in dialogue.

Sir Paul is expected to meet with Representatives of Fiji Employers Federation and Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Senior Members of USP and FIT Academic Staff.

Commonwealth envoy's hands tied

The Commonwealth's special envoy to Fiji says he's had no say in who he meets in a three day visit there.

Sir Paul Reeves says who he engages with, has been dictated by the interim government and he's had to accept that arrangement.

Fiji was suspended last week by the Commonwealth, but Sir Paul's trip is aimed at engaging with the military government.

The interim government has stipulated Sir Paul cannot meet political leaders like Mahendray Chaudry and Laisenia Qarase.

The former governor general of New Zealand says the matter has been out of his hands.

“Well we are very much dependent upon what is arranged for us by the government of the day and they have not included all the political parties and basically whatever be our feelings about that, that is the position we accept.”

Sir Paul was guarded about his first meeting on Wednesday with interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama, but described it as amicable.

“We are seeking to explore the way in which the situation of the interim of administration in Fiji and the possible assistance of the Commonwealth can meet. It was amicable and a good sort of spirit was involved in everything we said, so it was ok.”

Fiji’s interim defence minister says the Commonwealth envoy knew before he arrived in Suva, that he wouldn’t be allowed to talk to opposition politicians.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says the interim government of Frank Bainimarama warned the Commonwealth secretary-general that Sir Paul would have access only to the military leadership.

Sir Paul’s visit has raised the hopes of several political parties including, the SDL leader, Laisenia Qarase and the Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudry.

But Ratu Epeli says Commodore Bainimarama was upfront with the Commonwealth about what would not be acceptable.

“Well the prime minister made it quite clear, you know, that he was not going to entertain any political parties during this discussion and Secretary General was forewarned about this before Sir Paul Reeves.”

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says the interim government sees Sir Paul’s visit, coming after last week’s Commonwealth suspension, as a positive sign.

He said it was encouraging that just days after Fiji was suspended, it was engaging in talks with a Commonwealth representative.

Fiji is only the second nation to ever be suspended by the Commonwealth.

John Prasad faces scrutiny

The Permanent Secretary for Finance, New Zealand citizen John Prasad has been asked by the Public Service Commission to submit his formal qualifications and work experience.

Sources say last week PSC Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi summoned Prasad and asked him to present his CV and academic qualifications to PSC as soon as possible.

According to sources Prasad, a very close ally of interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, went to military dictator Frank Bainimarama and informed him that Serulagilagi was asking him to submit his formal record.

Bainimarama reportedly told Prasad to comply with the PSC directive.

Prasad claims he has a Masters in Business Administration.

But whether it is from a recognised university is unknown.

Sources say even a formal MBA does not make Prasad qualified to hold the position of Finance Permanent Secretary.

Itinerary incomplete says Sir Paul

The Commonwealth's special envoy Sir Paul Reeves says he is not sure about who else he will be meeting in Fiji as his itinerary is incomplete.

Sources say this means he won't be meeting with any political parties.

Sir Paul arrived in Fiji on Tuesday night and met with the dictatorship regime's prime minister Frank Bainimarama, members of his regime and the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF).

A NCBBF member and Director of Citizens Constitution Forum Reverend Akuila Yabaki said Sir Paul raised concerns about the September 2014 electon timetable announced by the regime in July.

Yabaki said Sir Paul also told them that although Fiji is suspended from the Commonwealth, asistance would be forthcoing to help the countryy return to constitutional democracy.

The regime has organised meetings with the Fiji Employers Federation, Fiji Chamber of Commerce, University of the South Pacific and University of Fiji for Sir Paul.

Teleni's Holy Spirit claim backfires

Police Commissioner Esala Teleni has again been outed as a liar after saying he sacked police officers for transporting marijuana from Sigatoka because the Holy Spirit had spoken to him.

The Drugs unit commanding officer ASP Sakeo Ganivatu today told Radio Legend FM that no one has been sacked and a special team has been formed to investigate the claims.

Ganivatu said they are looking for evidence to support the allegations and an investigation will take time.

Speaking at an Assemblies of God Church conference late last month, Teleni said the Holy Spirit had spoken to him about police officers involved in drug trafficking and influencing judges to wrongfully imprison people facing criminal charges.

The New Methodist Church is led by Teleni's younger brother Atu Vulaono.

Chaudhry and regime blamed for dissolution

The Fiji Cane Growers Association, removed from the control of the Sugar Cane Growers Council after the December 2006 military coup has blamed Mahendra Chaudhry and the interim regime for the dissolution of the council.

In a statement FCGA general secretary Bala Dass described the outgoing council chairman Jain Kumar's comments about blaming the organisation and NFU as baseless.

He said Kumar's comments to the media in Fiji is "a shameful attempt to shift blame onto others for his own failures".

Dass said Kumar must remember that the NFU, Labour Party and Chaudhry have been in control of the Council after the coup, having usurped authority by removing former chief executive Jagannath Sami and 8 nominated councillors.

He said Chaudhry as interim sugar minister got the interim Cabinet to defer SCGC elections from 2008 to 2010.

"The bottom line is that in whole heartedly supporting an un-elected regime and occupying positions of authority in the Council after engineering the usurpation of legitimate authority following the coup of December 2006, Jain Kumar, his leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji Labour Party and National Farmers Union are responsible for the demise of the Council and deterioraton of the sugar industry".

"Nothing whatsoever including uttering lies, gutter level comments and mudslinging by the likes of Jain Kumar and other cronies will change this undisputable fact", Dass said.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Scale of human right abuse revealed in Amnesty Report

Fiji authorities are using a variety of “repressive tactics” to smother free speech, including short-term arrests and intimidation of journalists, says Amnesty International.

The human rights organisation released a scathing new report early today detailing serious human rights violations under the military regime headed by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

This includes the arrest and detention of at least 20 journalists under the ongoing Public Emergency Regulations, the surveillance, harassment and detention of critics, stringent censorship of media, and the interference with the rule of law.

Titled Fiji: Paradise Lost, the 48-page document also criticises the speedy release of soldiers convicted of two murders in 2007, and details other reported crimes since the 2006 coup led by Bainimarama, including the beatings, torture and sexual molestation of detainees.

“Fiji is now caught in a downward spiral of human rights violations and repression,” said Amnesty’s Pacific researcher, Apolosi Bose.

“Security forces in Fiji have become increasingly menacing towards people who oppose the regime, including journalists and human rights defenders.”

Bose was in Fiji during April when then president Ratu Josefa Iloilo fired the judiciary, abolished the constitution, reinstated Bainimarama as prime minister and imposed strict Public Emergency Regulations (PER), still ongoing.

The report is based on more than 80 interviews Bose carried out in Fiji with representatives from local NGOs, government departments, faith-based organisations as well as members of the public.

‘Gestapo-like tactics’
Speaking to AI on the condition that they remain anonymous, Fijian journalists and editors described life under the PER in the report.

“This is the worst time to be a journalist. They’re employing Gestapo-like tactics to intimidate us. They threatened us and told us that if we are not careful, they can beat us up badly,” one reporter told AI.

Another account describes Fijilive journalists Dionisia Tabureguci and Shelvin Chand, who were arrested barely 30mins after a report they wrote about several soldiers convicted of manslaughter was published on news site fijilive.com.

They spent two nights in custody and then released with a warning.

Besides the arbitrary arrests and interrogation of journalists, government officials and plainclothes police have been placed in all newsrooms to ensure nothing negative about the regime gets published or broadcast.

“They come in around 4pm and they start to look at all the footage and reports that we have collated and edited for the 6pm news. They can order us to cut out anything which may be interpreted as negative… there is absolutely no independence, no free press,” says a local TV journalist in the report.

Stories from other countries are also censored if they concern civil disturbances or unrest, so that the public do not “get ideas” about uprisings.

One youth activist who was detained and questioned, Peter Waqavonovono, said he was told not to speak to overseas media as the military were monitoring all overseas media interviews with Fijians.

Complete immunity and control
The AI report points out that under the PER, soldiers and police do not have to answer to their actions or any human rights violations they commit.

The role of media as an independent watchdog is crippled by section 16 of the PER, which gives vast powers of censorship to government’s Permanent Secretary of Information.

He or she may ban a broadcast or publication if he or she believes it “may give rise to disorder… or promote disaffection or public alarm…”

Any person or entity that “fails in anyway whatsoever” to comply with the regulations may be ordered to “cease all operations”.

Amnesty International has called for the Fiji government to reinstate the constitution, restore the judiciary, repeal the PER, and halt all human rights violations against the Fijian people.

It has also called for combined pressure from the international and regional community to ensure Fiji implements these changes - Josephine Latu Pacific Scoop/Pacific Media Watch

Read Amnesty report - http://www.mediafire.com/?ngjewoyke2g

Parties unlikely to get meeting with Reeves

The dictatorship regime has indicated political parties will not be granted an opportunity to meet the Commonwealth's Special Envoy, Sir Paul Reeves, during his three-day visit to Fiji starting Wednesday.

Permanent Secretary for Information, Neumi Leweni, has told the media the regime's prime minister, Frank Banimarama, will have the final say on whether political partis will be allowed to meet Sir Paul (pictured right).

Leweni says so far the regime wants Sir Paul to meet Bainimarama, interim attorney general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the interim Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau, the Electoral Commission and the Fiji Chamber of Commerce - a pro-regime advocate.

With a litte over a day to go before the start of Sir Paul's visit, denial of an opportunity to political parties will mean contravening one of the Commonwealth's resolution to allow unrestricted, free and fair political dialogue with no pre-determined outcomes.

Sir Paul is Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamlesh Sharma's Special Envoy. He was in Fiji more than a year ago but his role in facilitating political dialogue as rejected by the regime.

Sir Paul headed a three-member Commission whose report formed the basis o the 1997 Constitution abrogated by the regime on 10th April.

Regime contravenes its own decree

The interim regime has violated its own Legal Practitioners Decree by cancelling the permit issued to the Fiji Law Society to hold its annual general meeting later this month.

The regime issued a permit but last week police revoked it without providing any reason. The AGM would have seen a three way contest for Society's presidency with current head Dorsami Naidu being challenged by Kitione Vuetaki and young lawyer, Rajendra Chaudhry. Rajendra is the eldest son of Fji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry - an ardent supporter of the military coup and the regime until three months ago.

The Legal Practioners Decreee, promulgated in May, replaces the Legal Practiioners Act and has made the Law Society basically toothless with its membership now voluntary. The regime has taken over the role of issuing practicing certificates to lawyers - previously the role of the Society.

But despite stripping the Society of its powers, the regime, through the Decree, still requires the Society to be a functional organisation. Section 23 of the Decree requires the Society to hold its Annual General Meeting during September every year.

The Decree also has regulatory powers over the Society.

Regime bans Fiji TImes

The civil service departments under various interim ministries have been ordered not to buy copies of the Fiji Times newspaper and cancel their advertising contracts.

Radio Legend FM news is eporting that the directive has been issued by Public Service Commission chairman, Parmesh Chand, via a circular.

Those departments that subscribe to the Fiji Times have been ordered to seek refunds for the remainder of the subscription term. If they are unable to do this, then the subscription should not be renewed.

Furthermore, all departments and interim ministries have been asked to cease publication of advertisements and notices in the Fiji Times with immediate effect. This means that notices about planned water supply disruptions, temporary road closures, tenders, vacancies, expressions of interest for promissory notes, vehicle auctions, speeches and press releases of interim ministers will no longer be published as advertisements in the Fiji Times.

The Times is the country's oldest newspaper and last week celebrated its 140th birthday. It is by far the most widely read newspaper in Fiji and the regime's decision will mean members of the public are likely to incur the extra cost of another newspaper for information about civil service.

Not satisfied with absolute media censorship, the regime is hell-bent on inflicting further punishment on both the Fiji Times and its readership. No explanation has been given for this idiotic move.