The Fiji Democracy of Freedom Movement in Australia is sticking to its belief the Bose Levu Vakaturaga must play a crucial role in its plan for a return to a fair and free Fiji.
It says opposition to the Great Council of Chiefs being allowed to ‘reconvene to deliberate on the affairs of the nation’ is irrelevant and misplaced.
In a statement signed by its interim president, Suliasi Daunitutu, FDFM says criticism the Bose Levu Vakaturaga is unelected or a colonial invention and its track record in past crises is "irrelevant and misplaced."
Quote: "The BLV is one among many institutions in our national political and social life that has been dismantled and harassed by a government that wants to destroy all institutions of representation, association and dialogue, and has systematically used the public emergency regulations to achieve this.
Our No. 8 demand needs to be read together with the 7th, i.e, to ‘re-empower institutions of governance, including allowing democratic elections for such bodies as municipal councils, industrial associations, trade unions and statutory organisations’. ‘Institutions of governance’ include also other unelected bodies, like the civil society organisations, and it is important that all of these be allowed to meet and deliberate, including the BLV. At a time when the trades unions are threatened with an attack through the Critical Industries in Financial Distress Decree, we should not allow divisions or petty quarrels to undermine our unity."
The FDFM has also dismissed objections to its demand the 1997 constitution be restored saying critics claim the legislation's provision for communal electoral rolls is flawed or that its electoral system is too complex, is unproven.
Again, from its statement: "This is a longstanding debate in Fiji, taken up by the supporters of the Bainimarama-Khaiyum government mischievously again to justify and legitimise their continued rule. Others have objected that the need to make reforms ‘with an appropriate electoral system, including the removal of communal rolls’ is unconstitutional since only an elected parliament can make such changes. Again, we have sought to put forward demands that can unite our movement.
"The choice is plain: either we embrace the promised arrangements upon which deliberations will allegedly commence in 2012 or we build upon those which Fiji’s leaders from across the political spectrum agreed in the mid-1990s. There is no easy middle way, but our proposed way is to accept that the 1997 constitution is a living document, and that changes should be made. The time has passed when communal seats are reasonably necessary for the alleged ‘protection’ of the indigenous Fijian community, if they ever served that purpose.
"We believe that this was acknowledged by all of the major elected political parties in Fiji. The recommendation for a reform of the electoral system was the only serious proposal in the regime’s ‘People’s Charter’. Unanimity could have been achieved around this through dialogue, sparing Fiji much trauma. Instead the Bainimarama-Khaiyum regime chose the avenue of confrontation and discord when they repudiated dialogue and abrogated the 1997 constitution.
"So we have compromised in this respect, but not in others. To embark upon a course of accepting the regime’s proposed constitutional deliberations in 2012, if these eventuate, would be suicide for the cause of democracy in Fiji. Just as with the ‘People’s Charter’, these would be used merely as a method of tokenistic consultation, with Bainimarama and Khaiyum in fact deciding the outcome. We need an alternative moral compass. We stand by our demand point (3) for a restoration of the 1997 constitution."
The movement also urges people to be flexible saying "we need to broaden and strengthen our movement. Nothing is cast in stone. We appeal also to those who have weathered this storm within the regime hoping to exercise influence or sway the government towards democracy. So, our Ten Point Plan remains subject to negotiation and dialogue, and we will use these negotiations to build the necessary unity. The time is past when we will allow petty squabbles to divide our movement.
"This is the only strategy on offer to restore our country to economic security, political openness and public order. To those who seek continually to find fault with the activities of the democracy movement, we say step back and think carefully about your position. Whose side are you on? In theory, you back the creation of a future perfect democracy, but in practice you back a military dictatorship and attack those pressing for democratic government. We appeal to you instead to unite around our chosen programme, and build support for the transition to democracy in Fiji."
The 10-point transitional plan was revealed at the first pro-democracy movement in Canberra last month, featuring former military officers Roko Ului Mara and Jone Baledrokadorka as keynote speakers.