#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-07-11

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fiji Labour Party: Miffed Fiji to blame for increasing isolation

Posted July 13 2010

In the past 24 hours we have witnessed the occurrence of events which have isolated us further from our neighbours.

We will not go into the pros and cons of the decisions leading to these events, for to do so would not achieve any positive outcomes for Fiji.

But we have to admit that the cancellation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting scheduled here next week is a heavy blow from which it may take us long to recover. And worst still, it comes close to the Pacific Islands Forum meeting scheduled next month in Vanuatu.

The expulsion of an Australian diplomat, the second within nine months, is regrettable as it will further estrange relations between our two countries.

Early this morning, the Acting Australian High Commissioner in Suva, Ms Sarah Roberts received a letter from the Fiji Government declaring her a persona non grata and giving her 24 hours to leave Fiji.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola claims she had been “interfering with the internal affairs of Fiji and conducting unfriendly acts”.

But it is clear that Fiji has been miffed by what it sees as efforts by the Australian Government to engage “in strategies to undermine Fiji’s sovereignty and weaken the economy. This has been further highlighted by calling on MSG countries, especially Vanuatu, not to attend the MSG Leaders’ Summit.”

Australian High Commissioner James Batley was expelled by Fiji on November 4th last year. The Fiji administration gave similar reasons for the expulsion then.

The decision to expel Sarah Roberts follows close on the heels of an announcement by the Chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei deferring the Group’s scheduled meeting in Fiji next week.

In a statement Mr Natapei said the decision was a collective one “in the light of the current impasse within the grouping over the chairmanship of the MSG”.

“There are basic fundamental principles and values of democracy and good governance that our organisation is built on and we must continue to uphold them.”

The Bainimarama administration, suspended from the South Pacific Forum, had pinned high hopes of upstaging the Forum by hosting an extended meeting of the MSG with non-Melanesian countries in the region invited to attend as observers.

The decision by MSG members to defer the Suva meeting is clearly an embarrassment for Fiji.

Ostensibly, the stand-off is over Vanuatu’s objection to Fiji chairing the MSG meeting in Suva next week, and Commodore Bainimarama is still hoping that the meeting will take place, whether under the MSG banner or not.

But, it appears that the MSG may have suddenly woken up to its commitment to uphold the values and principles of democracy and the rule of law, under its charter of association (the MSG Agreement)

Under Articles 5 and 6 of the MSG Agreement, member States have agreed that:

"Respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law  shall underpin the domestic and international policies of the parties and constitute the essential elements of the contractual nature of the relations between the parties to this agreement." (Article 6:2)

"The parties affirm that democratisation, development and the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights and mutual reinforcing are interrelated. In addition, thereto, the parties affirm that, democratic principles are universally recognised principles underpinning the organisation of the State to ensure the legitimacy of its authority, the legality of its actions reflected in its constitutional, legislative and regulatory system." (Article 5:3)

Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that there is now a significant rift within the MSG over Fiji – the Group had hitherto appeared, surprisingly, to be firmly in support of Bainimarama’s agenda for Fiji vis a vis the uncompromising stand taken by the rest of the Forum countries.

The current move is clearly yet another indication that the international community does not condone what is happening in Fiji - the suppression of basic human rights and the continued erosion of democratic values and principles.

Attitudes around us are hardening as it becomes clear that the interim administration shows no intention of engaging in inclusive political dialogue leading to the holding of early elections and returning Fiji to democratic and constitutional rule.-Fiji Labour Party website     

Australia outplays Fiji's supremo

By Graeme Dobell

Australia doesn't get everything it wants in dealing with the arc of islands in the neighbourhood, a reality many Australians seem to miss. Count the new Prime Minister among those subject to the odd regional reality check. 

East Timor has just given Julia Gillard a quick and painful demonstration of the limits facing the regional superpower.
This column, however, is about the other side of equation: how Australia often gets much of what it wants in the region. I'm going to desert the commentariat consensus and seek regional coherence and purpose in the way Australia is grappling with Fiji. The key to this perspective is to think about the South Pacific, not just Fiji.

By again expelling Australia's top diplomat in Suva, Frank Bainimarama is lashing out at the rest of the South Pacific, not just at Canberra. The bombast from Fiji's Supremo suggests that Suva is feeling some pressure. And that weight is coming from the region.

This is the decisive point: the region is siding with Australia. Bainimarama berates Australia, but his deeper anger is that the rest of the region agrees with Canberra and distrusts the Supremo. 

The diplomatic tug of war is not merely between Suva and Canberra. It is about visions of the region and the definition of regional norms. The ultimate prize in this contest is the ownership and direction of regional instruments. In this fight, Australia and the Pacific Islands Forum have just had a significant win. Granted, such wins are wounding and debilitating for the region: a few more wins like this and we'll all be ruined!

It suits Bainimarama to claim that he is being insulted and assaulted by Australia and New Zealand. The constant narrative from Suva is that Australia is bullying the rest of the Islands to make them stand against Fiji.

But the Melanesian Spearhead Group has blown a giant raspberry at the Bainimarama version of regional reality. The MSG has stripped Fiji of its right to hold a summit in Nadi. The decision was announced by Vanuatu as chair of the MSG, but described as 'a collective decision of the leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, the FLNKS and Vanuatu'. 

The statement from Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, said the group had acted to resolve an 'impasse' over Fiji's chairmanship:
The potential long-term ramifications of allowing Fiji to chair the MSG this time cannot be ignored. There are basic, fundamental principles and values of democracy and good governance that our organisation is built on, and we must continue to uphold them.

Australia could not have said it better: 'basic, fundamental principles and values of democracy’. As the Fiji-born academic Professor Brij Lal dryly comments, Fiji's military regime 'will be taken aback by the robust language used in the communique'. Taken aback? Gobsmacked! Not only has Fiji been kicked out of the Pacific Islands Forum. Suva cannot even bend the MSG to its will.

Bainimarama sought to create a new regional power base for Fiji, inviting all members of the Forum apart from Australia and New Zealand to attend his Nadi summit. The MSG has refused to play.

Understand what this says about the erosion of Fiji's standing in the South Pacific under the Supremo. After the two coups in Fiji in 1987, the rest of the Islands lined up with Fiji against Australia and New Zealand. Back then, the Forum expressed more than understanding for Fiji. The region supported the Fiji military and the regime it installed after throwing out an elected government. No thought then of expelling Fiji from the Forum.

Bainimarama has managed to shred Fiji's role as the heart of regionalism in the South Pacific. This is an amazing bit of serial blundering.

Australia and New Zealand are not alone in mistrusting Bainimarama and what he has done. Canberra and Wellington are just more explicit than the rest of the Forum in expressing their distaste. Australia has played its hand with restraint: not cutting diplomatic links with Fiji, not imposing economic sanctions on Fiji, not cutting aid directed at average Fijians. 

The nasties have been aimed at Fiji's elite – travel bans on the regime's cronies and the ejection of Fiji from the regional club which has its secretariat in Suva.

It may not amount to masterful diplomacy, but it gives proper attention to the views of the rest of the South Pacific. Australia has not sought to crush Fiji's economy (Bainimarama is doing that by himself). Such diplomacy means that Australia and New Zealand can stand with the rest of the South Pacific in shunning the Supremo.

Too many Australians see this as weakness by Canberra or – the Gillard mistake again – a failure of Australia to properly assert its regional power. You can detect such assumptions in this comment by the chairman of News Ltd, John Hartigan, responding to the Supremo's move to strip the Fiji Times from News' ownership:

The Australian government has brought little pressure to bear on the military government to hold elections, restore democracy or re-establish the depleted power of Fiji's judiciary, apart from imposing travel bans on regime leaders.
It's easy enough to argue that Australia has been 'confused and contradictory' in dealing with Fiji. Let's not, though, confuse cause and effect. There has been a lot of strange, even bloody-minded behaviour on display, but most of it emanates from the Supremo. Whatever the limits of its power (or diplomacy), Australia can point to mounting evidence that it is closer to the rest of the South Pacific than Fiji. No wonder Bainimarama is angry.

The region agonises, but continues to insist that Fiji, one day, will have to confront its Army curse. Many countries have armies. A few unfortunate places are afflicted by armies which possess the country. Fiji is living that nightmare.

Friday, July 16, 2010

MSG draws back from the brink

By Russell Hunter in the Samoa Observer
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), comprising Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS of New Caledonia drew back yesterday from the brink of folly and hypocrisy. 

By originally agreeing to have military dictator Commodore Frank Bainimarama as chair of its meeting in Fiji next week, the MSG risked tarnishing its reputation, compromising its ideals and eroding its credibility. 

Fortunately, common sense has prevailed and the meeting has been “deferred”  which is very likely diplomat-speak for cancelled after member countries said they could not agree on Bainimarama as chair. Like the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth, the MSG has a set of standards and rules.  

It strongly affirms the universal nature of democratic principles. These, says the MSG, underpin the organisation of a state and ensure the legitimacy of its authority and the legality of its actions. The regional body espouses a firm commitment to fundamental freedoms, human rights and political engagement based on inclusive dialogue. The MSG stands by the rule of law, judicial independence, transparency and accountability.  

It was therefore quite bizarre that the leaders attending the Fiji meeting would have been willingly guided in their deliberations by the South Pacific’s first enduring military dictator who has comprehensively rejected the values the MSG purports to embrace. It’s significant that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Maleilegaoi bluntly refused Bainimarama’s invitation to attend. 

Commodore Bainimarama took over an elected government at gun-point in 2006 and has ruled by force ever since. His philosophy of governance is driven by a belief that the military is “all powerful”. 

The Commodore has thrown out the country’s Constitution, abolished Fiji’s democratic institutions and taken basic rights and freedoms from its people.  He rules with the support of a Cabinet and Military Council. But his word is law and he demands obedience. Dissent is forbidden. Those who hold views on critical national issues that differ from those of Commodore Bainimarama are advised to keep their own counsel or suffer the consequences. 

Last year, after he abrogated the Constitution, Commodore Bainimarama enacted emergency rule that imposed censorship of the media and gave the security forces sweeping authority. He promised to lift the emergency regulations, including censorship, when a new media law was introduced. 

The media controls, which impose severe penalties on journalists who infringe them, are now in place. But the Commodore has broken his promise to end emergency rule, just as he broke a pledge to the Forum to hold elections in 2009.  

Fiji’s judiciary was sacked with the trashing of the constitution. New appointees hold office with the approval of the military. Questions naturally arise about their independence. The rule of law, as understood by most members of the international community is, therefore, undermined. A host of “decrees”, issued with little public debate, substitute for acts of Parliament approved by MPs representing the popular will. 

The Bainimarama regime is accountable only to itself. It does not practise transparency. Instead the people of Fiji are engulfed in a constant stream of propaganda portraying Commodore Bainimarama as the great saviour and problem solver. He is said to be transforming Fiji for the better, and to have the backing of the people. 

The only way for Commodore Bainimarama to prove he has the public with him is to surrender to the ballot box. It is only through a free and fair election, without military intimidation, that the Commodore can establish the legitimacy of his authority. Until that happens he is just one of history’s tyrants governing through fear, lies and suppression. 

So much for the Pacific Way. 

Commodore Bainimarama does not believe in inclusive dialogue. He has excluded political leaders who won the last elections from discussions on Fiji’s political future. These discussions, which became largely meaningless, are now stalled. There is a widespread suspicion that the Commodore will not abide by his new promise of elections by 2014.

The MSG, fortunately for the region, has drawn back from endorsement as its chair of someone who came to power through an act of treason and rejects all the precepts and beliefs that define the organisation. 

It is not enough to talk about a unique way of resolving differences by consensus among Melanesian brothers bound together by goodwill, shared thinking, traditions and customs. 

Such warm and fuzzy talk will be seen by Bainimarama as a propaganda opportunity to be seized and exploited. He might go through the motions of identifying with the Melanesian ethos. In the end however he will be motivated by what he considers is in his own best interests and survival. 

He would certainly have used the MSG meeting and his role in it as a tool to push his desire for validation. Like all illegal dictators, he craves legitimacy above all things and, again, like all illegal dictators, he fears the truth above all else. 

The MSG will not now allow itself to be used by the Commodore as a wedge to weaken the Forum and to isolate his enemies, the governments of Australia and New Zealand. By turning away from the dictator the MSG has struck a blow for the human rights and freedoms that are at the very heart of its charter and constitution. 

Of course Bainimarama will not see it that way. He sees the heavy hand of Australia and New Zealand intervening to deprive him of a propaganda coup and out goes yet another Australian head of mission. 

What does he hope to achieve by this? Does he really think he can bully the whole Pacific Forum into submission to his will? Amazing as it may seem, all the evidence points in that direction. 

Meanwhile, the people of Fiji continue to suffer under his rule. The overwhelming majority of local opinion feels relief at the decision by the MSG to pull back from the brink as any other course of action would have been seen as providing aid and comfort to their oppressor and assisting him to entrench his rule - without taking their views into account. 

For the people of Fiji are without a voice. Nobody dares to speak out for fear of severe physical punishment. Even the suspicion of criticism of the junta is enough to bring soldiers to the door after dark. Their media is heavily censored to the point that the people of Fiji increasingly turn to your newspaper’s website to seek knowledge of what is going on at home and in the region.

Bainimarama argues that things in Fiji are normal and the country is on the move. This is falsehood. What is happening in Fiji is an aberration, a stain on the region, that is quite rightly condemned by right-thinking members of the international community. 

The Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth suspended Fiji on the basis of principle.  

In its dealings with Fiji the MSG has yesterday, let’s hope, done the same by honouring its own founding principles. 

And now read the pro-Bainimarama Fiji SUN editorial: 

  • Aust, NZ get to Natapei
The pressure was obviously too much. Or was it an inducement offered to Vanuatu?

Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei 's highly suspect decision yesterday to postpone next week's Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit follows weeks of intense behind-the-scenes pressure by the Australian and New Zealand governments.

Canberra and Wellington flexed all their considerable aid and diplomatic muscle to prevent the MSG Plus Summit going ahead at Natadola next week.

Mr Natapei, claiming to be the MSG chair, has now shown that it has worked. He caved in and called off the meeting at what is near the last minute. He did so despite the earlier willingness of MSG members Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and six other countries to attend.

The politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra and Wellington will see this as a triumph for their continuing efforts to isolate Fiji. Their anti-Fiji news media, such as Fiji Times owners News Limited in Australia and so-called Pacific Islands experts like Michael Field in New Zealand, will trumpet the Fiji isolated line.

But what it really shows yet again is how much control Canberra and Wellington exert over the South Pacific islands, and how they are willing to use it to bully island nations to get their way.

Canberra and Wellington obviously saw the MSG Plus summit in Fiji to be chaired by our Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, as a direct challenge to their influence and hold in the region.

For not only would it have seen Commodore Bainimarama take over as the chairperson of the potentially powerful MSG regional bloc of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Commodore Bainimarama had also invited other island nations to take part at the same time in what was known as MSG Plus. Six had already confirmed their attendance. They were notably led by the Micronesian countries of the North Pacific where Canberra and Wellington have much less influence.

The politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra and Wellington could never accept Fiji hosting MSG Plus because of what it would have meant to them.

It would have signalled a collapse of their efforts to isolate Fiji. It would signal a weakening of the regional domination by the Pacific Islands Forum, over which Canberra and Wellington now hold strong sway.

It would have undermined Canberra and Wellington's efforts to dominate regional trade and business through pushing through their so-called PACER Plus agreement.

What yesterday's decision shows is how vulnerable many countries in the South Pacific are when it comes to pressure from Canberra and Wellington. And perhaps how easily some of them can be bought.

It shows how much Vanuatu, once proudly one of the most independent of the island nations, has come under Australian influence under Mr Natapei's leadership.

Only Fiji and Papua New Guinea are economically powerful and developed enough to easily withstand the pressures from Canberra and Wellington.

It is why Fiji must continue to build and develop alliances and trade and political ties in Asia, with Russia and Cuba, and throughout the Non Aligned Movement. The Government has already made good progress in this.

We should also continue to work with any of our Pacific Islands neighbours who are willing to stand up to the pressure from Canberra and Wellington.
But the capitulation by Mr Natapei marks the end of Melanesian Solidarity.

It signals the decline and maybe even collapse of the one regional body which was till now independent of Canberra and Wellington influence, the MSG. In offices in Canberra and Wellington the politicians and bureaucrats of those capitals must be rejoicing.

Fiji censorship like dark matter: impossible to see but still there

By Michael Field

Australia’s top diplomat has been expelled from Fiji for “unfriendly acts”. Not that you’d read about it there.

Watching Fiji these days is a bit like astronomy and physics: you can look into the universe and know that dark matter exists. It is just that it is impossible to see. Theory says it has to be there, and that is like Fiji.

Censorship is an almost all pervading thing; anything even slightly critical is blue-pencilled out of existence. However, not quite. If you look carefully at the Fiji media, you can see what is not there, even as in the parallel universe of reality, it exists.

Take the typhoid epidemic. Officially, it is under control and everything is fine, problem solved. Look again, the Fiji media keeps reporting it is all well, every week. Censorship has pushed the Fiji media into black hole, while out here, in the real world, there are other clues that typhoid is not at all well, and not under control.

The thing is, ordinary people are hearing the same things I am hearing now around the crashing health system; it is why the Fiji media keep reporting all is well. They are not going to report that things are deteriorating.

Look at the Fiji media; there is almost no crime other than that which can be spun by the military regime into evidence against previous regimes. So, when an old lady of some earlier fame is gang raped in her Suva old folks home, it does not get into the censored press. It cannot be blamed on former PM Laisenia Qarase; it is here and now.

Another piece of dark matter floating around is the Land Use Decree. We are told that this will lead to a rational and reasonable use of leased land. We are told, repeatedly, about how badly land was used in the past. Again and again, without specific reference to lands being, well, rationalised.

Why is that? Censored Fiji is not being told what is happening.

In fact, the decree is rationalising — and that is not the word — the beginnings of a kind of Mugabe land grab. I know of large well-managed properties around Viti Levu where people aligned with the Bainimarama regime are now getting doubtful orders from the corrupt courts to have land seized. In one case, a prominent military appointed court official has managed to get orders seizing white leased farmland without any compensation to the leaseholder.

Some of it even slips through the censor’s net: Momi Bay and Lagoon Resort in Pacific Harbour. Again, it is not what you read, but what you don’t read. The Black Matter is the name, or names, of the people in the regime who will profit from these seizures.

Bainimarama says corruption has gone; in fact, it is the black matter we cannot now see in the New Legal Order.

Look at the Surfing Decree, proclaiming the waves of Fiji open to all. Well, who could argue that robbing a fat cat’s property and giving it to the poor (or in this case, the lazy surfers of the world) is laudable. Just that Fiji might just find it increasingly harder to attract the fat cats any more.

After all, if the military gun can steal the waves, what about the resorts on the land next to them? Free rooms at Treasure Island; free room service at the Sheraton? Watch out Vomo.

What is notably absent from the censored press is any coverage — not a solitary word — of the discussion and consultation that preceded the Surfing Decree. Dark matter buried in there.

Another clue that all is rotten in Fiji is in Frank Bainimarama’s emergency budget. He said he had to bring it out because of unexpected events that he did not think of in his earlier budget. These included cyclones and rain. Cyclones and rain, unexpected, in Fiji?

In addition, his economic projections were knocked over by a termite outbreak in Nadi. Who does he think he is kidding? Termite treatment costs less than the Chinese weapons he is proposing to buy for the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

A lot of black matter floating around in those unchallenged ‘budget’ statements. One of which was why wasn’t there money for a rainy day?

Bainimarama says he is going off to the IMF to get $1 billion. However, he says they will only take it up after “placing paramountcy on what is in the best interest for Fiji and her people”.

Why would you state such an apparently obvious thing? It’s simple — as Greece and other much more powerful countries have long since found out; when you are broke and holding out a begging bowl no one cares about your paramountcy. Therefore, you tell the world — like pissing into the wind — that your paramountcy matters. No, it does not, and you will not read that in the Fiji media.

Then, there was the Media Decree. Now that came after 150 minutes of “consultation” with the media industry. The difference between the April draft and the June version is modest in the extreme.

Just before going there though, a small piece of unnoticed context, more dark matter if you like. Two weeks before the decree blitz hit, Bainimarama and his bag peon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, announced they were off to the Arab League where, the censored media assured us all, the Middle East was about to sprinkle US$50 million in gold on the regime. The censored media said, repeatedly, that this was Fiji’s money to claim.

There was black matter, unreported; the Arabs offered US$50 million to be “shared” among 14 Pacific nations, not just Fiji. Bainimarama delivered a speech to the assembled Arabs that was so bad I doubt even he can remember what he said. Then he and bag boy came home.

Nothing more in the censored media; it has gone, black matter. Don’t mention the Arabs.

Yes, we can determine from that vacant space that Bainimarama got nothing. Zilch. Chances are he even had to pay for his own mini-bar.

Nothing in the media equates with nothing in Fiji. So, they come home and immediately change the subject. They attack the media and Rupert Murdoch in particular.

Have no doubt, Bainimarama is being nasty and vindictive in the most self-destructive way. Investors have had the message driven home with ruthless efficiency; if we don’t like you, we will change the rules. It is robbery, straight and simple. It is also anti-democratic, oppressive and designed to squeeze out whatever independent thought is left.

Michael Field is the author of Swimming With Sharks: Tales from the South Pacific Frontline

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One of Yatu Latu Company Ltd directors on NBF Debtors List

Colonel Ilaisa Kacisolomone listed as owing $44, 668

Part Fourteen of a Special Report by VICTOR LAL 

Colonel Ilaisa Kacisolomone, the former president of the Fiji Court Martial and former Chief of Military Staff who, while sentencing the mutinous soldiers after 2000 Speight coup had described them as a menace to society who must be restricted in every way, was listed as one of the hundreds of debtors in the collapsed National Bank of Fiji 1996 Debtors List.  

He was listed as owing $44,668 to the bank. Kacisolomone is not only a director of Yatu Lau Company Ltd but also holds with Jimaima Kacisolomone thousands of Class A Shares in the once ‘Lauans only’ $23million company. 

Unlike the mutinous soldiers, two of whom he jailed for life and 54 other troops to terms ranging from four to ten years, it seems that  despite being listed as a NBF debtor, he faced no obstacle in the advancement of own career whether in the military or in the business world.  

Kacisolomone had said the mutineers had caused a lot of suffering and devastation to the country during one of its most trying times and acted in a cowardly way with the use of illegally seized weapons. He said the incitement to mutiny and mutiny were the most serious offences that had shocked Fiji’s military. He had called for an investigation into what he called disloyalty virus within the military which had the potential to become an epidemic. 

And yet neither Kacisolomone, the Mara-Ganilau dynastic members, Police Commissioner Esala Teleni, Foreign Minister Inoke Kubuabola, including countless others identified so far, have been brought to justice over the NBF loans scandal (virus) or asked to explain if they ever repaid their NBF loans. Police investigations into the NBF scandal revealed fraud, corruption, and gross abuse of office, obtaining money by false pretences and obtaining credit by fraud. And the debtors remain scot-free, many supporting or benefitting from the 2006 coup, and others continuing to reap dividends as shareholders of various companies.  

Kacisolomone, as president of the Fiji Court Martial, had also urged the present military dictator Frank Bainimarama to reveal the names of those who advised him [Bainimarama] to abrogate the 1997 Constitution. He said Bainimarama owed a duty to the nation to name those who advised him. He said those in authority did not readily accept the abrogation of the Constitution but went along drafting decrees to maintain their respective powers. 

Kacisolomone said several military officers were sympathetic to those responsible for the political upheaval in 2000. He said supplies that were taken from Queen Elizabeth Barracks to feed those in the parliamentary complex were one way to support the coup. He said soldiers were granted leave to go to Parliament, making it look as if they were off-duty. Kacisolomone said weapons had been taken to the Parliamentary complex from the military camp without any questions being asked.  

He had made the comment while acquitting Lagilagi Vosabeci, a former military intelligence officer on coup charges. Kacisolomone said soldiers charged with May 2000 offences had been dealt with. But, he said, serious attention had to turn to root causes that gave rise to criminal acts the military court had dealt with. ‘We hear too often from our Fijian leaders that most, if not all, support the cause but not the means when talking about the 2000 coup,’ he said.  

Kacisolomone noted: ‘Surely, any causes worth pursuing and inculcating into the fabrics of our everyday life are those which ensure for us a better future rather than a cause which denigrates human dignity and brings about hatred and sufferings, economic disaster and total disregard for law and order.’ He said the ‘cause’ led to the imprisonment of high chiefs, brilliant young men, and custodians of law and order. 

Meanwhile, Bainimarama had refused to accept back into his ranks any of the soldiers who were implicated in the mutiny that accompanied the country’s 2000 political coup, saying ‘they cannot be trusted’. This was despite almost all of them expressing remorse and a willingness to return to the army barracks after serving time for their part in the takeover of Parliament in May 2000 and a bloody mutiny in November the same year. Why should we take them back?’ asked Bainimarama. ‘There is no reason to take them back. Why? So there will be another coup?’ In any event, he didn’t need them, for he knew that if he wanted to, he could execute another coup himself, which he did in December 2006. 

Fifty-eight soldiers had faced the court martial for their involvement in the Parliament takeover, according to military lawyer and until recently the military appointed Chief Court Registrar Ana Rokomokoti. Sixty-three were tried for the takeover of the Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa. The soldiers had all pleaded guilty to charges against them except for Vosabeci and the late Private Iliesa Liganivai, who had been convicted of several mutiny offences, but hung himself before he was to go on trial on separate mutiny charges.  

Only 39 soldiers, who were tried for their part in both the mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks and the Parliament takeover, pleaded not guilty. This first group to face the court martial included mutiny leader, Captain Shane Stevens, who is serving a life sentence. 

Unlike the above mutineers, no NBF debtor, despite the former DDP chief Nazhat Shameem’s effort to bring them to trial, was convicted. Many went on to borrow from other banks and have continued to run businesses or serve as directors and shareholders of companies. As I have noted above, Kacisolomone is listed as one of the directors of Yatu Lau Company Ltd in the company’s annual report for the year ending 2008.  

Meanwhile, other company directors are as follows, as one can ascertain from the company’s annual return to the Registrar of Companies made up to the 31 December 2008, and signed off by its chairperson Koila Nailatikau and secretary Solomoni Makasiale. They are as follows: 
  1. Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara; the military ‘Bully Boy’ as he is referred to by his junior officers and coup opponents, and chairman of the Lau Provincial Council;
  2. Anare Jale, former Fiji Ambassador to the US and former CEO of the Public Service Commission from May 2005 to 7 December 2006 when he was dismissed by the coupist Frank Bainimarama;
  3. Adi Koila Nailatikau, the wife of President Epeli Nailatikau;
  4. Col. Ilaisa Kacisolomone;
  5. Alipate Naiorosui, the CEO, Housing Authority, presently facing charges of abuse of office, in that he allegedly in December of 2006, while he was the Deputy Chairman for Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd, approved the payment of $177,000 in early retirement for Herbert Hazelman;
  6. Solomone Makasiale (recently deceased)
  7. Dr Esther Williams, USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor;
  8. James Datta, who had hastily supported the post 2006 military and later became a board member of FNFP, ATH, TFL etc, etc;
  9.   Savenaca Tuivaqa, former assistant police commissioner during Speight coup of 2000;
  10. Akuila Savu, the economist who was appointed CEO Air Pacific, under the chairmanship of John Hill, the Engineer (who had a business with Baines in Wailada Subdivision, Lami).;
  11. Sialeni Vuetaki, former Ports Authority Board chairman and CEO of Air Fiji Ltd;
  12. Sireli Mokunitulevu - Ratu Isireli Mokunitulevu of Tarukua Village, Moala, Lau. He normally attends the Lau Provincial Council as their area's representative.
The secretary of YLCL was listed as Solomoni Makasiale, P O Box 16455, Suva. The YLCL’s registered company office is listed as follows: 64-78 Rodwell Road, GPO Box 16455, Suva. 

Cross-Directorship and Yatu Lau Company Ltd 

We may recall that one of the demands of the present illegal regime is that there should be no cross-media ownership in Fiji. If so, we wonder whether the regime’s pig-headed lawyer Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum will call upon the Mara siblings to give up their cross-directorships, for some of them from Yatu Lau are also directors of the Lomaloma Resort, which owed the collapsed NBF thousands of dollars. Adi Koila Nailatikau and Tevita Uluilakeba Mara hold cross-directorships of Yatu Lau and Lomaloma Resort respectively. 

Who else, besides Kacisolomone, is from Yatu Lau on that National Bank of Fiji Debtors List?  

To be continued 
Editor’s Note: We will continue to reveal debtors names, which includes those of high chiefs, politicians, Indo-Fijians, Rotumans, Part-Europeans, business houses, including individual supporters of the present illegal junta in Fiji. If you or your family has paid back the NBF loans, please provide Victor Lal with evidence. He can be reached at vloxford@gmail.com  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fiji threatens to cancel elections

By Michael Field

Fiji's military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama says he is "seriously thinking" about cancelling long delayed elections for 2014, because of what he says is constant interference by Australia and New Zealand. 

His comment came as he again ejected an Australian diplomat from Suva in the wake of a cancellation of a Melanesian summit next week in Fiji. 

Bainimarama told Auckland-based Indian Radio Tarana that he blamed Australia for persuading Vanuatu to cancel the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) meeting. 

Bainimarama, who seized power in a coup in 2006, has reneged on earlier promises to restore democracy and last year, when he abrogated the constitution, said there would be no elections before 2014. 

Now he is thinking of changing his mind again. 

"In fact, I am all of a sudden thinking we might not be ready for 2014 for election if we don't get any assistance from Australia and New Zealand for instance," he told Tarana. 

"If we reach 2014 and we are not ready because of constant interfering, we are not going to give up our government to political parties... 

"I am seriously thinking about the date of the elections, the interference by these people, but I can tell you nothing is going to stop us from doing what needs to be done continuing on this pathway we need reforms. 

"That is going to happen, whether Australia likes or not, whether New Zealand likes it or not, they don't live in Fiji, they don't know what is happening in Fiji." 

After last night's cancellation of the MSG Bainimarama ordered the expulsion today of the Acting Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Sarah Roberts. 

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in a statement described the action against Roberts as "completely unjustified and very disappointing". 

The expulsion was "counterproductive on almost every level", and rejected any suggestion that Australian and New Zealand pressure was the reason for the collapse of the MSG summit.

Current MSG chair and Vanuatu Prime Minister called off the summit last night with a statement saying the group needed to uphold democratic values. 

"It is deeply insulting to ... Natapei to suggest that his decision to defer the MSG meeting was made because of pressure from New Zealand and Australia," Mr McCully said. 

"Prime Minister Natapei needed no help from New Zealand or Australia to work out that democratic principles should prevail within the region. 

Today's move will further diminish Fiji's standing in the eyes of the region and the international community, and further delay any recovery in the Fijian economy, he added. 

"It is also a sign that, despite our best efforts, Fiji still does not place much value on the maintenance of diplomatic relations and dialogue as a means of resolving differences," Mr McCully said. 

Fiji, which has been under military coup rule since 2006, had organised the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit for next week, bringing together the Melanesian nations of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Melanesian political party in the French territory of New Caledonia. He had also invited small Polynesian nations. 

The meeting was trumpeted as recognition of Fiji, particularly after its suspension from the bigger Pacific Forum,
But last night MSG chairman and Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Edward Natapei said they were 'deferring' the summit. 

"There are basic fundamental principles and values of democracy and good governance that our organisation is built on and we must continue to uphold them," he said. 

Bainimarama told the Fiji Sun - a pro-regime daily - that Australia and New Zealand were behind the cancellation.
He said the MSG WAS the only major regional group from which Australia and New Zealand are excluded. 

"I'm disappointed," he told the newspaper. 

He said Mr Natapei has been listening to Australia and New Zealand who were on a mission to dissolve the MSG. 

"Australia and New Zealand are trying to embarrass Fiji by dissolving the MSG. If there is no MSG then MSG leaders will be reluctant to come forward and discuss their issues and problems."

He said Mr Natapei had been the only MSG member opposing the chairmanship of the summit, despite several proposals by Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
"This is because they understand Fiji's role in the summit." 

Fiji's military-appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Inoke Kubuabola said the expulsion of the Australian High Commissioner was regrettable, but a direct result of Roberts' interference with the internal affairs of Fiji. 

Kubuabola said Fiji had repeatedly relayed concerns to Canberra. 

He said the practice of quiet diplomacy was given every chance to prevail by Fiji authorities in their efforts to seek understanding and co-operation, and Roberts had been advised to stop interfering in Fiji's domestic affairs. 

"These actions ultimately resulted in undermining the growth prospects of the Fiji economy and the good rapport between Pacific Island countries," he said. 

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the decision to expel the Australian high commissioner was both unjustified and disappointing, but Australia would not retaliate. 

"I'm not proposing to respond in kind," Smith said. 

Fiji is a member of the sub-regional group and Bainimarama has been trying to build his support base with other Melanesian countries in the Pacific. 

"We made it quite clear it was inappropriate," Smith said.
"That's the proper reason from Fiji for the expulsion." 

Mr Smith said he had spoken to his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully, and advised him of the "disappointing, surprising and a regrettably backward step".-Stuff.co.nz

Answers needed from the Melanesian Spearhead Group

Opinion piece by Suliasi Daunitutu

The U-turn by the Vanuatu Prime Minister over the Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in Nadi has been a heavy blow to Voreqe Bainimarama’s confidence in his last Pacific line of support.

Edward Natapei said that “Fiji hosting the meeting and allowing Bainimarama to chair the meeting is a threat to the organisation’s values”. 

What he failed to say was that Bainimarama’s inclusion in the group shows they condone his dictatorship which is the biggest threat to democratic values, in the Pacific or anywhere in the world where democracy is the steadiness of purpose and good and fair governance.

This is a great victory for everyone who is vigorously campaigning for an election and a return to democratic governance. However, I would like to ask a few hypothetical questions regarding the sudden change of heart.

We are now familiar with the fact that the MSG in July 2009 agreed that the Strategic framework for change had key components for Constitutional change. That led them to believe there were indeed visionary contents to Bainimarama’s reforms ..... or was there?

I would like to know how did the Melanesian Spearhead Group come to that conclusion in 2009 but have found the same principle behind those reforms to be a threat to the MSG values now?  I think that we the people of the Pacific would like to know how the structural reforms that would lead Fiji to a sustainable democracy in 2009, aren’t the same a year later.

I would also like to know what Michael Somare’s stance is on the sudden back flips of the group, as he was on record as saying the rest of the world “don’t understand the Pacific way.”  Has he also realised the Melanesian way is a threat to our democratic values?

I would also like to know if the MSG is contemplating a push for Bainimarama to legalise his government, so Fiji’s inclusion is not a hindrance to their democratic belief. Because that's what we are now led to believe after Natapei’s comments, that “the MSG has a more critical role in assisting Fiji.”

There’s a lot of questions but as we know, when a person is shunned by his friends there is a bitter taste in his mouth and an unmistakable embarrassment that could lead one to either isolate himself or on the other hand, do something drastic that can have negative, critical or even tragic consequences.

In Fiji’s case, it should not come as a surprise that Bainimarama will do both. He is sure to isolate Fiji from everyone and the tragic consequences will be felt by the people and the economy.

Murdoch to sell off Fiji Times according to UK columnist

A columnist for The Guardian newspaper in Britain says Murdoch must sell off Fiji Times as a result of the new media decree.

Roy Greenlsade says Rupert Murdoch's Australian-based media outfit, News Ltd, is now undertaking the forced sale (or closure) of the country's main newspaper, the Fiji Times, in order to comply with a decree restricting foreign media ownership.

He's sourced the information to the Australian.

It's also been suggested to Coupfourpointfive that Fiji Times Editor, Netani Rika, has secured a job with News Corp in Australia.

Australian envoy sent packing after Melanesian summit cancelled

Another Australian diplomat is being sent home as the Fiji military government hits out after the cancellation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Australia's acting high commissioner Sarah Roberts has been told she will be served with a "persona non grata" and will be given 24 hours to leave the country.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says the decision to expel Roberts was "unjustified and unjustifiable".

But he says Fiji's remaining senior diplomat in Australia will not be dismissed in retaliation.

"If I responded in kind, that would see Fiji unrepresented in Australia and would effectively see the end of our formal diplomatic contact."

The BBC says it's unclear why Fiji took the latest action, but Smith said Suva was angry with Canberra because of disagreements over scheduled meetings of various Pacific island political groups.

The Stuff website in New Zealand has been more direct saying it was because Australia would not support the summit meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

New Zealand has also refused to support the meeting but it is not known whether Suva will act again against Wellington.

Bainimarama had touted the MSG summit later this month as a counter-point to the Pacific Forum 16-nation summit that has suspended Fiji's membership.

The MSG takes in the Melanesian nations of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Melanesian political party in the French territory of New Caledonia.

Bainimarama had persuaded several Polynesian nations to attend the summit and claimed it was to counter the domination of Australia and New Zealand in the forum.

But he got a rude awakening from the prime minister of Samoa, Sailele Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, who penned the following letter:

Dear Interim Prime Minister

re: Invitation to be an Observer at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Meeting – July 21-23, 2010

I refer to your letter of 24 May, 2010 faxed to my office on 6 July with your invitation to attend the MSG Meeting of Leaders in Suva, Fiji.

I was given to understand that the advice to the Ministerial Contact Group meeting in Auckland at the end of May, by your representative, was that only those non-MSG countries that had indicated a wish to attend would be invited. I had not expressed any such wish. On the contrary, when the media asked me sometime ago if I would attend if invited, my reply was no.

I am afraid that nothing has happened since that has given me any reason to reconsider my decision.

Now that your invitation has come, I wish to let you know that as one of the long serving and senior members of the Pacific Islands Forum, I am afraid that I do not, in all sincerity, feel that it would be right for me to accept your invitation.

An invitation for non-MSG Pacific leaders to an MSG Leaders Meeting has never been made before to my knowledge. Samoa certainly has not been invited previously.

That non-MSG countries were not invited was a state of affairs that made sense to me, as the MSG members would wish to use their meeting to discuss issues pertinent to them. Very importantly the MSG also brought any issues to the Pacific Islands Forum that the MSG felt was of wider interest to the Forum. This is the relationship and practice which has enabled sub-regional groups and the Pacific Islands Forum to exist side by side and work together as well as allowed the latter to retain primary status in our Pacific region.

For the MSG meeting about to be hosted in Fiji, I would imagine that the MSG members, as done in the past, will bring to the attention of the Pacific Islands Forum any issues from its meeting that they feel the Forum should also consider.

The above said, I want to take this opportunity to again continue to plead and encourage you to quickly return Fiji to Parliamentary democracy and allow the people of Fiji their freedoms and rights.

Your sincerely
Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi

Source C4, BBC and Stuff.co.nz

Pictures: Top Stephen Smith. Bottom: Tuilaepa

Fiji: Vanuatu only one with issue

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation is reporting the interim government is disappointed with the call by the Vanuatu Prime Minister to defer the Melanesian Spearhead Group summit.

It says Fji believes Edward Natapei could have resolved the situation earlier but made the decision well after Fiji had prepared for the event.

In a statement, the interim government says Natapei made the decision without exhausting all political options and avenues available to him to resolve the so-called “impasse within the grouping over the Chairmanship of the MSG”.

Fiji says to their knowledge only Vanuatu has an issue with Fiji hosting the MSG Summit with both the Prime Ministers of PNG and the Solomon Islands writing to Natapei last week seeking his understanding and support for Fiji to host and chair the MSG Summit.

The government says that understanding was based on the Melanesian custom of deferring to your host when entering his/her village or bure.

Fiji has urged Natapei to consider Bainimarama’s suggestion on 8 July to convene as early as next week a “Special Meeting of MSG Leaders” to resolve the Chairmanship issue.

The government statement says this is an important issue for the MSG region and it is important that Natapei will not delay its discussion unnecessarily.-Stanley Simpson

Editor's note: See Intelligentsia for Edward Natapei's full statement on the decision to cancel the Nadi summit.

Picture: Bainimarama and Michael Somare in happier times

Spearhead group cancels Fiji summit

Fiji's Melanesian allies have pulled the plug on the planned leaders' summit in Suva because of the interim government's failure to move on democratic reform, isolating the junta even further.

The summit was to have been held next week and was Voreqe Bainimarama's answer to being suspended from the Commonwealth and the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum.

In recent months, the regime had worked to keep the support of its Melanesian allies and convince countries such as Samoa to attend the rival summit.

However, its uncompromising attitude to returning democracy to Fiji and to go ahead with the controversial media decree has cost it support.

The regime has today also announced it is sending Australia's acting high commissioner, Sarah Roberts, home. 

The Melanesian Spearhead Group says the cancellation was a "collective decision". He urged Bainimarama to attend talks in Port Vila to discuss the matter.

In a statement, the current MSG chairman, Vanuatu's prime minister Edward Natapei, said: "There are basic fundamental principles and values of democracy and good governance that our organisation is built on and we must continue to uphold them.

"This is a collective decision of the leaders ... in light of the current impasse within the grouping over the chairmanship of the MSG."

Natapei's statement was issued over the weekend and contrasts sharply with MSG's communique last year when it backed Fiji's government and its "roadmap" towards democracy.

The statement said Fiji's preparations for the talks were at an advanced stage, but added the "potential long-term ramifications of allowing Fiji to chair the MGS this time cannot be ignored".

"I have also advised Commodore Bainimarama of our decision and invited him to attend a special meeting of the MSG leaders here in Vanuatu to resolve this matter."

Picture: Natapei says decision to cancel summit was a collective one.

FLP boasts 25 years of political survival but silent on its leader's secret millions in Aussie bank account

The Fiji Labour Party this month observes the 25th anniversary of its birth, marking, it claims, 25 years of dynamism at the centre stage of Fiji politics. According to the FLP website:

These 25 years have been momentous - we have tasted the sweet joys of success and the pain of despair and deprivation but through it all we have resolutely and courageously stood up to oppression and injustice when our legitimate right to govern was unlawfully snatched away from us or whenever the rights of our people were trampled on.

The ultimate success of any political party is the support it receives at the grass roots. Twice in the past 25 years (1987 and 1999), we have taken over the helm of national leadership following resounding electoral victories in free and fair elections, and on two other occasions (2001 and 2006) we were the victims of systemic electoral manipulation and fraud.

In 1987, the fledgling FLP led by Dr Timoci Bavadra, won the elections in coalition with the National Federation Party, putting an end to 17 years of rule by Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's Alliance Party. Our victory was short-lived as vested interest groups plotted to overthrow the Bavadra Government after a mere month in office, in Fiji’s first army executed coup d’etat on 14 May 1987.

Released after six days of house arrest, members of the ousted Bavadra Government immediately went on the offensive mustering international support for its cause and fighting for the restoration of human rights and democracy on the home front. It forced the powers that be to a round table conference that culminated in the Deuba Accord of 24 September 1987 which set up a government of national unity under the combined leadership of the coalition partners and the Alliance.

Fiji’s second coup by army strongman, Sitiveni Rabuka, was executed the next day. This time it was vicious. The army took over control. Many political leaders, judges, academics and other activists including a few journalists, were rounded up and imprisoned. Fiji was completely cut off from the outside world through a telecommunications blackout while media outlets were shutdown for 40 days.

The fight back to democracy under the oppressive and authoritarian rule that followed, was a long and arduous battle. Labour executives were continually harassed and persecuted – their homes and vehicles were smashed and they were often detained by the Police for long periods.

Even after a semblance of parliamentary democracy was restored with the 1992 general elections under the extremely racist 1990 constitution, Labour continued to openly agitate for true democracy and constitutional reform.

Its 12 years of advocacy for people’s rights and interests in the face of extreme adversity and persecution, reaped huge rewards in the 1999 general elections held under the revised 1997 Constitution. Labour, as head of the People’s Coalition, took over the reins of power following a stunning election victory. It formed a multiracial government under Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, based on the power sharing provisions of the new Constitution.

The People’s Coalition Government during its one year in office ushered in significant social and economic reforms to provide relief to the poor, upgrade infrastructure and revive the ailing economy. It left a record of good governance, unparalleled economic growth at 9.6% of the GDP, high rate of employment, prudent and disciplined management of State affairs and finances, and a low inflation rate of 0.2%.

But the Labour-led government once again fell victim to greed, racist propaganda and a conspiracy by vested interest groups and was removed from office on 19 May 2000 in a takeover at Parliament, culminating in the 56-day hostage crisis.

Even though the rebels were eventually crushed, the People’s Coalition Government was not restored to office. Instead, an interim government was installed and fresh elections held in September the following year. This time, the powers that be rigged the polls to make sure Labour would not win. This was done through the manipulation of the voter registration process and the tampering of ballot papers at the polling stations, not to mention the $30 million pre-election vote buying scheme known as the Agricultural Scam.

The incoming Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, refused to honour the provisions of Section 99 of the 1997 Constitution on power sharing, depriving Labour of its mandate, as the second largest political party, to share in the governance of the nation .

We eventually won the right to participate in Cabinet, after several long drawn court battles, almost on the eve of the next general elections scheduled for May 2006. But had to decline participation because of the allocation of insignificant portfolios to the Labour MPs.

The 2006 elections were once again marred by massive manipulation of the voter rolls and the voting process - the integrity of the 2006 polls was clearly suspect. Even then, the encounter was very close with Labour losing two crucial Open seats in the Central Division by a very narrow margin - again through manipulation of the electoral process.

This time around, Qarase offered Cabinet positions to Labour in line with the Constitutional requirements but his ill-won victory was short-lived, however. Barely six months after he took office for a second term, his government was ousted by Army Commander Voreqe Bainimarama, in Fiji’s fourth coup d’etat.

FLP condemned the extra-constitutional takeover of power but accepted the need to help the President return Fiji speedily to democratic rule. Three Labour executives accepted the President’s invitation to join the interim Cabinet with Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry taking the important portfolios of Finance and Sugar. The other two were Tom Ricketts as Minister for Tourism, Trade & Commerce and Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi as Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Development and Labour & Industrial Relations

However, with elections then scheduled for March 2009 or thereabouts, the three Labour Ministers quit in August 2008 to concentrate on the build up to the elections.

On 10 April 2009, the President abrogated the Constitution, dismissed the judiciary and imposed the Public Emergency Regulations, in what it described as the new Legal Order. Elections were deferred to 2014. The PER paved the way for widespread suppression of human rights, including denial of the right to expression, assembly and association. All political activities are banned and there is rigorous censorship imposed on the media which means no criticism or adverse statements on the interim government’s policies and actions. Nor can such matters be taken to court because of restrictions placed on the jurisdiction of the Courts.

Despite this, the FLP continues to oppose the oppressive and arbitrary policies of the (military) government and pursues its struggle for a return to democracy and constitutional rule.

Today it is the only political party that is still actively in contact with the grassroots, and taking a stand on issues of national importance.

But then, that has always been the strength of the Fiji Labour Party since its inception. We have never baulked at carrying out our responsibilities as the true advocates of the people, particularly the poor, the downtrodden, the workers, the farmers and the small businessmen.

Over the past two decades and a half, the FLP has uncompromisingly upheld its founding principles of democracy, multiracialism, good governance, social justice and equity. We exemplified this during the brief periods when we held power, and in the intervening years, through our struggle for democracy and the rights of our people.

This is no doubt why we continue to remain strong, active and united today when many others have fallen along the way. We have witnessed the demise of the National Federation Party, the Alliance Party, the SVT, the SDL and other smaller groups in our journey through these 25 years.

Unfortunately, under the current oppressive climate, FLP has been denied the permit to hold celebrations to mark our silver jubilee.

But, nonetheless, we proudly acclaim our 25 years of dedicated and fearless service to the people of Fiji, regardless of race, colour or creed, and despite all the odds. Our strength lies with the people.-Fiji Labour Party website.

Pictures: Top right - coup perpetrators. Right: Democratcially-elected Timoci Bavadra.