#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-12-12

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fiji lawyer: Chief Justice can appoint President's successor

The authority of the President (albeit, an  illegally appointed one) has been under the microscope after recent talk that Epeli Nailatikau could disestablish the self-appointed government of Frank Bainimarama. It has since been suggested the regime is moving to empower the illegally appointed Chief Justice, Anthony Gates, to assume the authority of the President, to protect Bainimarama and his hierarchy. A Fiji lawyer (who chooses to be unnamed) explains here that the cunning regime partly did that when it abrogated the Constitution.

One thing must be said at the outset. It is that the President does not have, and should not have, any power to remove a Constitutional government, let alone Qarase’s government and with him as Prime Minister in 2006. This is the essence of democracy which requires the exercise of any executive power by mandate. 

A first year law student, like an ordinary citizen, knows that a Constitutional government cannot be removed, ever, except by the process of an election. As expected Fiji’s Constitution does not vest with the President any inherent powers and he must always act with the advice of the Prime Minister who, rightfully, has the mandate of the majority. The late President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's description of his Presidential powers in 2002 was that it was like   “a beautiful flower”, meaning it is purely ceremonial without any independent power.

In 2006, and years prior to that, as it became very clear later, some prominent people in Fiji including the current Chief Justice Anthony Gates, the Shameem sisters (Dr. Shameem and Nazhat Shameem) and the current Attorney General Mr. Kaiyum held the monstrous belief that the President can remove a Constitutional government, other than by way of an election, and amendments can be made to the Constitution without Parliament.

These people were instrumental in giving advice in Dec 2006 to Frank Bainimarama to remove the Qarase government using the office of the President. The rest is history and the names of these individuals together with those who directly support that endeavour, for their own personal reasons, a properly recorded in the annals of Fiji’s history to await their fate later.

The Fiji Court of Appeal’s decision in Qarase V Bainimarama  of 2009 and Jitoko J’s High Court decision in Qarase V Bainimarama & Council members of the Peoples Chater confirmed the obvious. It is that the President cannot remove a Constitutional government and that amendments cannot be made to the Constitution without Parliament. 

The decisions exposed further the rift that had then existed in the judiciary between Justice’s Gates, Byrness and Shameem on the one side and Justice’s Fatiaki, Scott and Jitoko on the other and of how judgements have become very subjective because of it. Former Chief Justice Fatiaki had, in an earlier judgement referred to the rift and animosity that existed, as worse than that which infested the Republic of Denmark in Shakespeare's Hamlet.  

Faced with the dilemma of the Court of Appeal ruling in April of 2009, Bainimarama and his advisers directed the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo to abrogate the 1997 Constitution. This was accompanied by the usual Decrees that normally follow an unlawful overthrow of power: namely a Decree to restore selected existing laws, another to exonerate the coup makers of their mutinous and unlawful actions, another to provide for the administration of Justice and one to provide for the exercise of executive authority. 

The Executive Authority Decree No.2 of 10th April, 2009 is the one that provides for the powers of the President and the one that he currently uses and follows in making appointments to the government and to cabinet.

The Decree simply says that the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo appoints himself President of the Republic of Fiji. S3 of the Decree says the President shall be head of the state, commander in Chief and head of any government appointed by the Decree and S4 says that until such time as a Parliament is elected in accordance with the Constitution to be adopted, the President shall have the power to appoint a Prime Minister by Decree, to appoint other ministers on advice of the Prime Minister, to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Fiji by the Decree in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister and cabinet and exercise executive authority.

S6 says the Prime Minister shall keep President fully informed. S8(2) says on the advice of Prime Minister, the President may assign to Prime Minister and each minister the responsibility of the conduct of any part of the business of government.

The Decree did not provide for the appointment of a successor to the President. In July, 2009 before he left office Ratu Josefal Iloilo, most likely by directive of Bainimarama and Kaiyum, passed another Decree to provide for the appointment of his successor. 

That Decree is known as the Executive Authority of Fiji (Amendment Decree No.28 of 2009). S2 of the Decree says that if the office of the President becomes vacant, the Chief Justice under advice of cabinet shall nominate another person to become President. After Ratu Iloilo was removed from office, the cabinet duly nominated the name of the current President who was accordingly appointed by the Chief Justice.

To summarise, as I hope is clear from the above discussion, the President under the 1997 Constitution has no power at all to remove a Prime Minister and his government. After the constitution was abrogated in April of 2009, the President became the head of state and exercised executive authority under the Executive Authority Decree No. 2 of April 2009. Under the Decree he has the power to appoint a Prime Minister by Decree and cabinet as well as to perform other executive powers and authority through the advice of Prime Minister and cabinet. The President’s successor can be appointed by the Chief Justice under the advice of the cabinet.

Pictures: Nailatikau (top) has some power but so does Gates (bottom).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It does not pay to oppose military coups!

A leading economist in the region has been denied a normal renewal of contract by his University management, on the grounds that he does not publish in international journals.

This economist is well recognized in Fiji and the Pacific as an excellent teacher of economics, as well as being prolific in solid research, consulting, workshop dissemination, and writing, that serve the wider interests of the peoples of Fiji and the Pacific, USP Member governments, and the donor communities, all of whom fund the University.

The unwanted economist happens to be also prolific, despite the military censorship, in publicizing reasoned opposition to military coups as a solution to Fiji’s development problems.

This particular University has recently been appointing expatriates at senior management level, while discouraging and making redundant, qualified, experienced, senior regional academics, some of whom have served the University for decades.

Coupfourpointfive will reveal further details in due course.

Fiji not worried about NZ spying

Fiji's interim regime says it is not worried about Wikileak revelations that New Zealand is spying on Fiji.

The Wikileaks cables show New Zealand has been tapping Fiji phones before and after the 2006 coup and passing on this information to the United States.

Fiji had accused Australia and New Zealand in 2008 of spying.

The only reaction to the Wikileaks revelation from Fiji's dictator, Frank Bainimarama, was : “With friends like Australia and New Zealand – who needs enemies?”

The interim permanent secretary for information Sharon Smith-Johns says the revelations don't come as a surprise.

She said the interim regime has nothing to hide and New Zealand could go on listening if they want.

“Let them listen to what the government has to say. We’ve got nothing to say, we know where the roadmap is taking us, we know of elections in 2014, we know when the constitution will come into place, we talk about this openly so let the NZ government spy on us and pass that information onto America or to Australia or to whoever they’re passing the information to.”

Wikileaks reveal NZ is spying on Fiji

The latest Wikileaks cables on Fiji have revealed that New Zealand has been spying on Fiji before and after the 2006 coup.

The cables, obtained by Fairfax New Zealand, says New Zealand has been using the Waihopai communications base to spy on the military and passing the intelligence to the United States Government.

New Zealand officials have always denied they were spying. 

The extent or method of the spying is not clear except for New Zealand being able to tap mobile phones in Fiji.

According to Fairfax, the cables reveal that the US deputy secretary Margaret McKean said  "New Zealand views the situation in Fiji as `acute', and appreciates USG [US Government] support for the Pacific Island Forum position on Fiji".

What was intercepted during the spying is not disclosed in the cables.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Regime uses US Embassy to show Bainimarama is still in control

Another day in Paradise and another 'show of strength' from Dictator Baini and his spurious followers.

Baini has told the Fijian programme Radio Fiji 1 he is prepared to expel the American ambassador, Steve McGann, if the US continues to hinder progress and oppose the regime.

The Dictator says he has no qualms about booting McGann out and that he is only 'letting things be" because the ambassador is in Washington discussing ways to improve the US relationship with Fiji.

It is interesting how the regime keeps fanning what very much looks to be a one-sided fight with the US Embassy.

We believe the regime is using the events of the last week and its supposed bad relations with the US to keep people in line.

More specifically, to show that: 
a) Baini is still in control despite claims he is sick
b) It can outwit the world's most powerful country so is therefore invincible
c) The hierarchy is united despite the recent resignations of the likes of Epeli Ganilau.

Dictator Baini and Co relished the publicity that came with its so-called brave decisions to expel several New Zealand and Australian diplomats and newspaper publishers and more recently, Fiji Water's David Roth.

Baini (or is it his handbag, the illegal attorney general Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum?) would love to appear tough to the world again after it last week looked like he had bent over by cancelling two marches for a third that didn't even happen.

US ambassador next to go?

The US Ambassador to Fiji, Steve McGann, could be booted out if he doesn't bring back good news from Washington.

Frank Bainimarama has told the Fijian program Radio Fiji 1, that he is prepared to expel the US ambassador from Fiji.

Bainimarama said that if the US continues to hinder progress in the country and oppose his government, he will have no qualms about kicking McGann out.

The dictator said he is "letting things be" for the moment as McGann is in Washington discussing ways to improve the US relationship with Fiji.

He added if the US increased their opposition to Fiji’s progress – then it was best they move out like Australia and New Zealand and wait to re-engage with the government that would be elected after elections in 2014.

Bainimarama told Radio Fiji 1 it is best that these countries stand aside as his government is implementing a process and road map set out in the Peoples Charter, to remove once and for all the elements that brought about instability to the country.

Bainimarama has already booted out the Australian and New Zealand ambassadors from Fiji.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pacific nations in the eye of the storm and Fiji right in the middle

By Rowan Callick, The Australian
Cyclone season has come early to the Pacific Islands - in political terms at least. Two countries have emerged with new leaders, and leaders in three other nations are under threat.

In Vanuatu, as soon as prime minister Edward Natapei departed for the Cancun climate change conference in Mexico, his deputy, Sato Kilman, plotted a coup to replace him.

Details of the vote in parliament to dislodge Mr Natapei remain blurred, because the plotters barred access to the public and the media. The Speaker who imposed the bar, George Wells, was rewarded with the Foreign Ministry.

Mr Kilman (right) swiftly moved to reconcile with Fiji's military ruler, Frank Bainimarama. Mr Natapei had refused to endorse Commodore Bainimarama as his successor as chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

But Mr Kilman will fly this week to an MSG meeting in Solomon Islands, where it is expected Fiji will be endorsed as chair of the grouping that also includes Papua New Guinea.

In Samoa, police are investigating threats to kill veteran Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele (below) and Chief Justice Patu Falefatu Sapolu.

The police believe the threats are related to the assassination 11 years ago of then works minister Luagalau Levaula Kamu, who was shot while speaking at a function in the capital, Apia. 

Two other members of Mr Tuilaepa's then cabinet and the son of one of them were jailed for life for that assassination. One of the three died in jail and the other two - former minister Leafa Vitale and his son, Alatise - were released on parole earlier this year.

In PNG, Prime Minister Michael Somare said he would step aside if the Chief Justice were to appoint a leadership tribunal to hear charges relating to his failure to submit details of his assets and business dealings, as required by the leadership code, since 1995.

In Fiji, Reserve Bank governor Sada Reddy has resigned after 35 years with the bank, halfway into his first three-year term in office - for reasons not yet made public.

The military government cancelled last Friday's annual Coalition of Human Rights march in Suva - citing a warning from the US embassy that "these marches may have an anti-government tone, and it is possible that assembled groups may become unruly".

Fiji government spokeswoman Sharon Smith-Johns said the embassy had "chosen to take heed of gossip and rumour rather than confirm the facts with the Fiji government".

The government also attacked the US for refusing to provide Chief Justice Anthony Gates with a visa to attend an International Criminal Court meeting at the UN in New York, and for refusing visas to a government delegation to transit through the US to the Cancun conference.

In Tonga, which last month held the first election for a parliament that commoners would control, it is increasingly likely that an aristocrat will nevertheless be elected as the new prime minister on Friday.

And in Solomon Islands, the slim parliamentary majority of the government led by Danny Philip, formed since the August election, has become shaky following the jailing last month of then fisheries minister Jimmy "Rasta" Lusibaea.

85 jobs to go at Pacific Sun

Air Pacific is having to restructure its domestic airline, Pacific Sun, just three years after buying it.

Pacific Sun took to the airways in 2007 when Air Pacific bought the small planes off Sun Air. The planes were rebranded with the Air Pacific colours of red, dark blue and yellow.

But the makeover failed to pay off. Despite being bought for 44 million dollars, it quickly accumulated 18.5 million dollars in losses.

Pacific Sun General Manager, Jim Samson, admits the airline has been losing six million dollars a year since Air Pacific bought it.

He says the company has been forced to restructure and that 85 jobs will go with 25 new positions to be created at Air Pacific.

Pacific Sun says its management will be meeting with staff over the next few days and that consultation with affected employees and their elected labour representatives will start after Christmas on the 31st.

It says while not required by law or any individual or union contracts, eligible employees will be offered  three months’ severance pay.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Intel source: Decree being adjusted to give more power to Gates in absence of President

A source inside the military claims the illegal attorney general is amending the Executive Authority of Fiji (Amendment ) Decree 2009 to give the illegal Chief Justice, Anthony Gates more power.

Coupfourpointfive can't independently verify the information other than to say it has come from an intellingence source, who claims the amendment is aimed at empowering Gates in the absence of the illegal President, Epeli Nailatikau.

The suggestion is that Gates will replace Nailatikau.

More lies from Dictator Bainimarama and Fiji Sun!

The illegal regime is deceiving the nation again and using the US Embassy in Suva to do it.

In recent days the military junta has blamed the Embassy for trying to confuse people regarding an anti-Baini march that was supposedly planned for Sukuna Park on Friday.

Over the weekend, the regime roped in the Fiji Sun to aide and abet it in its crime. The paper published a story saying the illegally appointed Foreign Affairs Minister, Inoke Kubuabola, had summoned the US Ambassador, Steve McGann, on Friday to explain his decision to listen to an annonymous blog and refuse visas to three of its ministers, two weeks earlier.

Today, the self-appointed prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has 'appeared' again in a Fiji Sun story suggesting McGann's future is in doubt under the sub-heading "What Should I Do? PM Asks the Public."

The story goes on to quote Bainimarama as thus: “I have been told to send him (McGann) home because he is not doing his job well and because of the way he has been acting against Fiji,” Commodore Bainimarama told the Fiji SUN.

“But I am leaving it to the public and I am open to suggestions on what people think should be done to him before a decision is made.”

Coupfourpointfive has acquired a press statement from the US Embassy, which clearly dispels the lies the regime and the Sun have been hawking.

The US Embassy statement is diplomatic and does not call Baini and his cohorts the liars they are. But read between the lines and you can tell the Embassy is saying that there is no way McGann could have been summoned by Kubuabola - because he has been in Washington since December the 5th!

More to come. Meanwhile, the US Embassy statement that proves the 'summons' is a fallacy:

Response to Recent Media Inquires
December 13 2010

Ambassador McGann departed Fiji on December 5th for previously scheduled annual leave and consultations in the United States.

While in Washington, Ambassador McGann is holding discussions with U.S. officials on issues of continuing concern between our two nations in the context of our policy of increased engagement with Fiji and in appreciation of Fiji’s support in international forums.

Ambassador McGann looks forward to personally briefing Prime Minister Bainimarama on the outcome of his consultations in Washington upon his return to Fiji. 

Picture: The maligned US Ambassador to Fiji, Steve McGann, who has been in Washington since December the 5th, according to an Embassy statement.

WikiLeaks cables on North Korea: lessons for Fiji?

The latest release from WikiLeaks offers an insight into the determined dogma of one of the world's staunches military governments, and a note of bemusement for those following Fiji's wobbly journey.

The diplomatic cables from the whistle blowing website shows the United States envoy to North Korea was quite resourceful in his efforts to get a handle on Kim Jong-il.

Typical of military regimes, North Korea and Fiji both know the importance of isolating their citizens from the real world and one can only surmise if Dictator Bainimarama's love of rugby, has - or will - become a useful leverage.

We suspect Baini's creative use of the US Embassy security alerts last week to justify cancelling two marches the regime had approved for fear of an uprising against him (real or perceived), will also eventually get a mention.

Dictator Baini and the regime have also tried to ping the US for refusing three visas recently, describing the decision as 'deplorable'. This, too, is the sort of fodder that would trigger a swathe of diplomatic correspondence.

A summary of the latest WikiLeaks releases:
  •  The United States acknowledges that it is useless to get anything done regarding North Korea because no one has powers, except the military, which does not talk to anybody. Sound familiar!

  • the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, has isolated North Korea so much that families can't meet relatives living out of North Korea. They can see their families only if they pay the regime and continue to pay the regime for the rest of their lives.
  • The United States thought of getting Eric Clapton to play in North Korea to curry favour with the regime, as Kim Jong-il's son is a fan of Clapton's.
Classified By: Amb. Alexander Vershbow. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).
1. (C)XXXXXXXXXXXX Arranging an Eric Clapton concert in Pyongyang could also be useful, he said, given Kim Jong-il’s second son’s devotion to the rock legend.


2. (C) For an outsider to get anything done in the DPRK, XXXXXXXXXXXX advised, it is necessary to get the DPRK’s various institutions to cooperate. Each institution seems to have veto power, but none has the power to push anything forward. XXXXXXXXXXXX the only organizations that can really deliver are the military, which does not talk to anybody, or the Red Cross. XXXXXXXXXXXX


3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX advocated in favor of USG involvement in facilitating the reunification of Korean-American families divided by the Korean War. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that currently two groups organize these visits for Korean-Americans. The first is Compatriots United, which has arranged thousands of reunions.

However, the group is controlled by the DPRK’s Overseas Compatriots Committee and extorts a tremendous amount of money from desperate families to arrange the visits. Families seeking to participate must pay USD 300 to apply and submit comprehensive personal and financial information. If selected, the families are forced to pay for unwanted sightseeing excursions in North Korea. Before they are finally able to see their relatives, which is always just hours before their departing flight, they are often told that the relatives had to travel to the meeting place by taxi and owed several thousand dollars in fare. As XXXXXXXXXXXX explained, these are desperate, old people who would pay anything.

After the trip, the participants typically get repeated correspondence from the North Korean government asking for money to assist the family members, who are sometimes falsely alleged to be ill.

4. (C) The other group active in family reunions is Pyongtong in Los Angeles. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the group recently arranged for 15 persons to visit family members in the DPRK. However, the DPRK canceled the arrangement after the group went to the press. Pyongyang ultimately intervened and instructed the Compatriots Committee to help facilitate the visit. Thus, Pyongtong was able to arrange a visit for six people a few weeks ago.

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said that North Korea would not run such an exploitative system if the United States government were involved in the process. There is a reluctance, he said, for Korean-Americans to pursue family reunions because they do not want to divulge their personal information to the DPRK and they do not want the North Koreans to milk them for money before, during and after the reunion. The USG could at least volunteer to serve as a conduit for correspondence between these families and North Korea to prevent the DPRK from learning the home addresses and bank accounts of participants. The DPRK might be willing to accept this structure because it badly wants a relationship with Washington.

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX did not see hope for inter-Korean engagement, despite the widely acclaimed railroad test. “North Koreans have no intention of dealing with (South Koreans). The South Koreans really think they can help. They don’t understand that North Korea is sealed.”


7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX passed on the suggestion from his North Korean interlocutors that the USG arrange for Eric Clapton to perform a concert in Pyongyang. As Kim Jong-il’s second son, Kim Jong-chol, is reported to be a great fan, the performance could be an opportunity to build good will.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Has Bainimarama headed back to China for more treatment?

Word on the ground is that the self-appointed leader Frank Bainimarama has returned to China.

Coupfourpointfive has been told Baini was seen being taken to the airport on Friday morning and that he later boarded Korean Airlines for China, presumably for medical treatment.

We can't verify this information independently at this time and can only say that two sources have told us this is what has happened.

Baini's recent visit to China and state of health remains controversial. The regime insists the dictator was bolstering trade but we believe he was seeking medical treatment for a stroke. We have subsequently been told he has cancer like symptoms in his neck.

The illness of any 'leader' is a sensitive issue at the best of times but in the case of an illegally appointed military government, as in Fiji, the failing health of its El Supremo is a death knell.

Huge rifts (not to mention a planned protest march) have split the hierarchy, so conjecture (and ultimately confirmation) about his illness leaves him vulnerable.

Suffice to say, we are unlikely to hear 'officially' if Bainimarama has headed to China for a second time in less than a month. As with many things today, the nation will be left guessing and relying on the coconut wireless about something they should know as of a right.

Picture: Dictator Baini in the pic that is giving weight to claims he has had a stroke.