|Commission at work. pic Fiji Times|
That's the message from the president of the United Peoples Party, Mick Beddoes, to the illegal leader, Frank Bainimarama.
Beddoes says Bainimarama's almost daily denunciation and threats against people making submissions to the Constitution Commission and his attack on the Chair, Yash Ghai, is in clear breach of Decree 57 of 2012 and in particular Section 7 (1) a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h and Sec 11 (1) General Provisions.
He says if Bainimarama keeps it up, he will undermine the entire process and wipe out any credibility his Commissioners have managed to achieve so far.
He said: "That is the problem that we have here. He (Ghai) is pressured by these NGOs and politicians. These are the same group of people that want to have a hand in the composition of the Constituent Assembly so that they can pressure him into doing this and to changing what they want done and in the Constituent Assembly, have it cemented before they move into elections.”
He referred to the situation as so: “What is happening is like a proverbial camel. They come in with their head into the tent and then their whole body comes in and they kick the owner of the tent out. That’s what him and the people they are listening to are trying to do. They are trying to get us back, bring back the old statements that they have been going on with for the last couple of months."
Beddoes has confirmed he and his political colleagues met with the ‘full commission’ saying a second meeting was planned but had to be postponed because of the FEA blackout.
He says the meeting was by appointment and at his reqeust, not the Commission's. And he says they were grateful Ghai and the Commissioners were willing to meet with them, just as he hoped they would be willing to meet with anyone else who might need to.
Beddoes says Sec 7 (1) (f) (ii) of Decree 57 permits meetings in private and if Bainimarama keeps up his attacks on submitters, than he will not be surprised if people start opting for private and written submissions to avoid being the subject of personal and malicious attacks, 'courtesy of Fiji’s compromised Media industry, just for presenting an alternative thought to the process'.
He says the current attitude on display from the regime reminds him of a famous speech made by Sir Winston Churchill to the American people on Oct 16 1938:
"'People say, many people, we ought not to allow ourselves to be drawn into a theatrical antagonism between Nazism & Democracy? But the antagonism is here! NOW!
"You see these Dictators standing on their pedal stools surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police! They are afraid of words and thoughts, words spoken abroad and thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden.
These terrify them, a little mouse; a tiny little mouse of thought appears in the room and even the mightiest potentate is thrown into panic.’"
Beddoes says a little more humility, respect and trust in the people, the Commissioners and the process might be a 'worthwhile investment' for the regime at this time.
Earlier this week, Suva lawyer and the son of the FLP party leader, Rajendra Chaudhry, also tackled Bainimarama's determined efforts to have control.
“I think that it is about time Bainimarama also decides whether he wants to be a politician or an Army Commander. He cannot do both because there is a very clear conflict of interest and the Public Service Regulations address this. So why is there special exception for this man.”
He also questioned why Bainimarama is making comments about the submissions, rubbishing those those that he doesn't like. Chaudhry says Bainimarama is bullying the process and trying to control the outcome of the talks.
Chaudhry also urged the Commission to disregard the non-negotiable principles stipulated by the regime saying it should take the view of the majority of the people.
“It should not be influenced in any manner, shape or form by anybody, least of all by the Interim Prime Minister Mr Bainimarama who is obviously an interested party in the proceedings of the Constitution Commission and they are making comments on submissions by other political parties or NGOs. That is not proper for him to do. Let the people express their views, let the commission record those views.”
Bainimarama has told media he has been both Prime Minister and Army Commander in the last six years because of circumstances saying: "I’m going to be the Commander RFMF and Prime Minister for the next two years until elections and unfortunately for him and his father there is nothing they can do to change that.”