#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Centre for International Studies: Time for foreign leaders to admit Fiji's transistion to democracy is faltering

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Centre for International Studies: Time for foreign leaders to admit Fiji's transistion to democracy is faltering

"Those expecting Fiji to transition from a coup-spawned military dictatorship to a full-fledged democracy can expect to be disappointed"

Paradise Lost: Fiji’s Failing Democratic Transition

By Elke Larsen and Kathleen Rustici 
For the Centre for Strategic and International Studies

  • Photo Courtesy of auntiem from Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntiem/68767209/sizes/o/in/photostream/

    Fiji’s prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, released a draft constitution on March 21, ostensibly to guide his country back to democracy. At the same time, he canceled plans for a constituent assembly to debate the draft, instead welcoming input from citizens at large although without promising to incorporate their suggestions.

    Ghai at the printers where police burnt drafts. pic C4.5
    Fiji’s current government came to power in a 2006 military coup led by Bainimarama. Following an international outcry, he promised in 2009 to hold elections and return Fiji to democracy by 2014. Finalizing a constitution is a crucial step down this road, but many Fijians and outside observers question how democratic the planned return to democracy next year will be.

    The draft constitution, as well as the process of drafting it, allows Bainimarama to hold on to unprecedented power and single-handedly shape Fiji’s future. The draft, created primarily by lawyers appointed by the military regime, was released without any civilian input. The mechanisms for outside feedback are extremely limited.

    Citizens can comment on the draft until April 26—the original April 5 deadline proved too short to gather much input—either by e-mail, writing to the Solicitor General’s Office, texting, or commenting on the Ministry of Information’s Facebook page. This may seem like genuine openness by the government. In reality, the process prevents consolidated political and civil society voices from contesting the government’s overwhelming role in the debate.

    Given government censorship and punishment of any reporting deemed harmful to national interests, unbiased, informed discussion is not readily available to the general public in Fiji. Only the “best” submissions will be incorporated into the final draft, according to Bainimarama, and it remains unclear who will make that determination or when the constitution will come into effect.

    The current draft is not the first attempt at a constitution. Last year, a civilian-led commission headed by legal expert Yash Ghai, of Kenya, drafted a constitution. The commission was appointed by the Fijian government and funded by Australia and New Zealand. The civilian draft would have removed the military from office over a six-month period and was praised for its protections of rights and freedoms. When Ghai leaked a copy of the draft constitution to the press in December 2012, Bainimarama scrapped the commission and fired him. In an Orwellian gesture, the government collected all hard copies of the document and burned them in front of Ghai.

    Ghai’s commission had received substantial praise from abroad, with many arguing that Bainimarama truly wanted to transition Fiji to a free and fair democracy. As the constitutional process has gone downhill, foreign governments that were highly critical of the 2006 coup have voiced only muted concern. For example, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard said on April 4 that Bainimarama must hold free and fair elections in 2014, but did not directly criticize his tactics. With growing funding from China, Fiji is increasingly less reliant on Australia and New Zealand, and less susceptible to pressure from them.

    Police at printery: pic C4.5
    Several prominent figures in Fiji harshly criticized the new draft constitution last week. Political activist Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, who manages the women’s organization Femlink Pacific, lamented that references to women’s rights in the civilian draft were taken out. She said on April 2 that the draft renders women, who already face heavy discrimination in the Pacific, “invisible.” Three hundred members of the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, a group headed by former political party leaders, met April 3 and released a statement rejecting the government’s draft and demanded that the civilian commission’s document be reinstated.

    The current draft allows Bainimarama to remain in power until election day in September 2014 and is more accommodating of the military’s role in Fiji. It offers a pardon for anyone involved in a coup—Fiji has had four in 25 years—and constitutional scholars have said the draft gives the elected prime minister extraordinary lawmaking powers. It names the prime minister head of the armed services and gives the government broad powers to override much of Fiji’s Bill of Rights in the interests of national security.

    Bainimarama is consolidating his position in other ways as well. A decree on political parties passed earlier this year resulted in a reduction of the number of parties from 17 to 3 as of February 19. The decree requires that political parties have at least 5,000 members and pay a registration fee of some $2,800. The fee must come from contributions from the party members; parties can no longer receive donations from businesses, nongovernmental organizations, or other groups. Journalists, editors, and media organizations can be jailed or fined if they refer to an unauthorized organization as a political party.

    When introducing the new draft constitution, Bainimarama said that he had canceled the planned constituent assembly because a “lack of commitment of political parties to register” had not provided “a conducive climate.” Forming a new assembly and processing its recommendations before a previously announced September deadline would be a tall order, so the government stepped in. In other words, Bainimarama imposed requirements on political and civil society that ensured they would fall short and that left the drafting of the constitution entirely in the government’s hands.

    UFDF Meeting: Citizens opposed to regime Constitution.
    Those expecting Fiji to transition from a coup-spawned military dictatorship to a full-fledged democracy can expect to be disappointed. Bainimarama is likely to hold onto power, announcing the day after the draft constitution’s release that he will run in the 2014 elections. His current ability to rule by decree, along with intimidation of media and opposition groups, ensures him a strong edge on any other candidates that emerge in the coming months.

    The time has come for foreign leaders, especially in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, to start admitting that Fiji’s transition to democracy is faltering. Their leverage over the country is smaller than it once was, but it is not inconsiderable. Bainimarama should be told clearly that the current draft constitution and the process that birthed it do not meet the standards of the international community. The message should be that normalization of relations will not occur if Fiji’s government continues its current course. Australia, New Zealand, and the United States should use every opportunity to rally Fiji’s neighbors around that position, especially in the run-up to this September’s Pacific Islands Forum.

    (This Commentary originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Pacific Partners Outlook.)
    Elke Larsen is research assistant with the Pacific Partners Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and Kathleen Rustici is research associate with the Pacific Partners Initiative
    The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
    Additional pictures added to article by C4.5


  1. No one cares .fijian have to solve its own political problem now.
    coup was started by army in 1987 than army have to make the wrong right now.
    so no more coup in the future.full stop.
    political leaders and army council have to have talanoa session to sort things out with open mind and fiji future .no personal agenda from both sides.
    fijians have to seat as a united team and sort this problems out -once for all.
    time to have united cool head and move fiji forward for better future for all generation.
    god bless.

  2. some people outside Fiji - a very rare few - get it right. these two perceptive writers have got it absolutely right. contrast that with what the McCully mob "noted"!
    what they "noted" is sweet bugger all! Nothing intelligent in it. In fact what they noted is plain stupid given the stake reality that Fiji fall into the hands of a military dictator and 6 years later remains firmly in his grip.
    Now instead of confronting that reality as established international norms demand they came up with meaningless guideline on what the regime needs to do.
    That's neither here nor there!
    The regime damn well knows what the international norms established in the various international protocols, declarations and conventions are - they simply refused to abide by them. And the reality is bodies that are suppose to do something about that have done sweet fuckall!
    I hope am making myself clear!

  3. This is all Hot Air and no constructive outcome. Can we now believe any word Banimara/Arse saying; every time they open their shitty mouth Only Shit comes out without any substance.
    Can anyone highlight the consultancy payments made to one NISAR ALI for computer services to varios Govt agencies; I am told this guy has no IT qualifications but is a good buddy of AG? Another case of abuse of Public funds as was in the case of NLTB and Ballu Khan.

  4. Ratu Jone Kubabola rather than educating others should educate his brother Ratu Inoke about this draft constitution. Ratu Inoke is the power behind the selling of this constitution overseas and so far he is very successful. May be Rabuka should also talk to Ratu Inoke. I am surprised with the little criticism coming from the Foreign Group about the draft constitution. Well people it is time for demonstrations. Where is Vutaki Meo? Is he also finished?

  5. I am now incline to believe that Aryse bros are once again potraying that Muslim Community cannot be trusted,history have told they have betrayed in past and now continue to do so..very sad. I hope atleast one Muslim leader comes out publicly and goes against these act of terror

  6. The more Frank Bainimarama attempts to justify and clarify himself, the more evident it becomes that he doesn't know what he's doing and saying and how little he knows about reality.
    But I still can't get my head around the people who support this retard or why they do!
    No disrespect to retards intended!



  9. hey this constitution that we are all talking about and that is being pushed n replaced by the ghai draft is being modified or altered for the present regime by the so called fugitive Julian Moti. Get the facts right this bastard moti was in the country about 2 months ago and was in Suva meeting and licking up wit top gov officials and 100% sure he is the one who has stood up for this illegal pple to support them with his no knowledge about wat we all are going thru
    Publish | Delete | Spam

  10. I am really confused with the post by Rajesh singh. His tune changes everyday. Today he is speaking about Talanoa session between all parties. I agree and the first move has to made by the politicans.

    This is a stark contrast to his bloody suggestions which no one has any balls, including him.

  11. @Anonymous 6:48 PM

    What you have to realise is that this is the voice of an 'ex' politician.

    They will change their tune continually in their vain hope that someone will take notice of them.

    Having had a government containing some politicians of this calibre is it any surprise Fiji is now in the state it is.

  12. editor,
    we read in Margaret Thatcher 'gave her approval'to her son Mark's failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea (The Guardian/The Observer 14/4) that MT approved of a failed attempt to use an army of mercenaries to overthrow the president of the oil rich country according to the unpublished version of former SAS officer Simon Mann's memoir Cry Havoc.
    The former PM's son Sir Mark was convicted in a South African court of involvement in the attempted coup.
    Margaret Thatcher is also alleged to have encouraged Mann to talk to a group seeking to overthrow the then president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez with the words::" We must always look after our friends,Simon... as I'm sure you know".
    We know that. The far right political leaders and their capitalist friends always look after each other in First World democracies and right around the world where ever they have a vested interest.
    We note our coup installed PM Frank Bainimarama also more openly supported his friends when there was a worldwide outcry against the torture they inflicted on escaped prisoners.It's a mafia kind of solidarity.
    (Read also Thousands gather in Trafalgar Square to protest against Thatcher's legacy (The Guardian 13/4).
    Margaret Thatcher was a democratically elected PM who ruled for over a decade and yet thousands turned up in the rain on Saturday night to "celebrate" her demise because of the harm she had caused to the lives of so many ordinary working class people.
    And our dictator - the unelected self-proclaimed PM of Fiji - Frank Bainimarama wants everyone to love and respect him.
    He must be out of his mind!
    rajend naidu

  13. we hear the PIF Ministerial Contact mob who came to Fiji were Hon. this and Hon. that. Hon. my arse! What they did was downright dishonourable.
    It is shameful that such man should have Hon.before their names.
    It is shameful that Fiji's coup PM should have Hon.before his name.
    There is nothing honourable about him. He is a thug ruler. Fulstop!

  14. Sir Mark funded the army of mercenaries with his mother Margaret thatcher's approval( to look after their friends)to overthrow the president of oil rich Equatorial Guinea. Who funded the mercenaries in the Fiji military to overthrow the democratic government in fiji?
    What capitalist interests had a hand in the overthrow? Which friend was looking after which friend in the Fiji coup?

  15. We should meet in a talanoa session with open mind.
    Frank have to make the call to meet all politicians and have a overseas mediator to chair this meeting We have great person like NZ Former GG Sir Satya Nand or Helen Clark should be approach to be a Mediator.
    The meeting should focus on the legal 1997 constitution and election.
    How we all can move fiji forward for future generation.No personal agenda. Whats best for Fiji.
    Rabuka and Reddy did break the ice and got Fiji best 1997 Constitution .
    Why cant Frank/PM Qarase/MPC do it now.
    I hope it can be done with the fijian spirit of love , peace and forgiveness .
    God Bless

  16. Fiji Tv /other media should get Khaiyum/Frank vs PM Qarase /Chaudhary /baba and Mick in political debate conduct it at Vodafone Arena.
    Let the public be the judge refer BKC/1997 Constitution.
    That will sort things out in the public once for all.

  17. the time had come quite sometime back actually for foreign leaders to admit Fiji's transition to democracy is f!#$%^& if it's left to the military dictatorship to undertake it. but they haven't. instead we have pathetic arseholes like Mc Cully pretending the regime is on track with its roadmap to democracy. the man does not only look stupid. he is stupid.

  18. anon 6.32am
    fiji is just a piece of little shit in the pacific why would the big powers be interested. there is no such conspiracy.
    the only conspiracy here is frank and his army and muslims to keep kranky out of jail for liumuring his loyal soldiers, and secondly for aiyass and muslims to put an end to fijian land ownership and political dominance.
    the facts are there right in ur face so dont go looking over seas.

  19. Rajesh I do agree on your TALNOA SESSION amongst politicians of yesteryear. The topic of the session should remain to "well we farked it up now lets enjoy our retirement." As a matter of fact they can have this conversation everyday, day in day out till their death.

  20. @ Anon 6:32 Im pretty sure there were some local businesses who supported Bainimarama. Infact, Bainimarama told Andrew Hughes that some businessmen told him that the economy will bounce back in 18 months. One of the companies I'm pretty sure backed him was CJ Patel. Look how they have benefited since the coups and Ajith "Chor" Kodagoda is the chairman of quite a few important organizations in Fiji. Others like Vodafone, etc are surely involved as well.

  21. Rajend Naidu is again looking for right-wing bogie monsters, but he overlooks the fact that Bainimarama is trying to pass his regme off as an anti-imperialist, pro-poor, pro-China, pro-Russia popular-based LEFTIST regime. Bainimarama packed his first cabinet with the likes of MPC, endorsed the vaguely socialistic People's Charter, which was largely the manifesto of the Fiji Labour Party, imposed confiscatory taxes on foreign companies, welcomed Beijing and Moscow with open legs, dismissed most human rights as a Western construct, praised the leadership of Hugo Chavez, etc., etc.

    Rajend dishonestly tries to portray an anti-Thatcher protest by anarchists and malcontents in Trafalgar Square as representative of common opinion in Britain. This is very wide of the truth. David Cameron's Conservative government is expected to receive a lift in the polls due to pro-Thatcher popular nostalgia. And there is widespread support for a proposal for a statue of Thatcher to be erected on that same Trafalgar Square, a very high honour.

  22. If a stature of Thatcher is erected in Trafalgar Square it is not only the British pigeons that will be shitting on it!

  23. @ 6.44pm, oh my gosh, they'll probably think you've just escaped from the loonybin shud you decide to duh!duh! on a statue. duh!

  24. given the widespread anti-Thatcher feeling in Britain it would be lunacy to erect a statue of her anywhere in Britain leave alone "on the same Trafalgar Square". Anyone who is planning on doing that must be referred to The British Mental Medical Authority urgently!

  25. Sir Mark ...
    just goes to prove having Sir before
    your name like having Dr or Professor or Hon. does not mean you can't be a scoundrel.
    In fact most of the major fuck ups around the world are the handiwork of man of title.
    now take our man - Commodore cum crook PM . Most of the shit happening in our country can be tracked to him.
    But we have the Dharam Lingams who hail him with their "Long live Bainimarama!" I think some people would not be able to smell shit even if it was put right under their nose. That's how humanity is made up - with a good amount of arseholes!

  26. it has become a self-evident truth that the coup "govt" of Bainimarama has subjected the people of Fiji to thug rule and intends to continue doing that. good minds have been able to see what's happening and say it. these two writers exhibit such minds.so long as we have that we know truth will prevail. Truth does not need a critical mass/numbers to validate it.conversely, no matter what large numbers gather in support of the coup "govts" and its plan that does not mean truth or right is on their side. Truth is not a popularity contest.

  27. @Baddu 3:15
    I'm still here.
    I agree with you. Inoke Kubuabola is an arsehole. He is an opportunistic selfish arsehole.
    Calls himself a christian but a main worker in government that has brought poverty to more Fijians than ever before.
    Also more suicide to young people.

    God says in the Bible that some christians have so suppressed their CONSCIENCE, that they have become a shipwreck.(1Timothy 1:19)

    Inoke is a perfect example.


    He has suppressed his conscience to what his illegal government is doing to the people of Fiji.

    Inoke calls himself a Christian but doing the works of the devil.
    Suppressed his conscience, so now he is blind. What a loser!

    Naboro is waiting for you,loser.
    No to Immunity.

  28. the other titles people can have before their names and still be bastards are Minister this or minister that;Permanent secretary, justice, Chairman ( as for eg Chairman of PSC) Commissioner ... People must always be judged by what they actually do.Not their title. especially titles acquired in a rogue regime.

  29. As I have written above, one way that God guides us is through our CONSCIENCE.
    We have to vote with what our CONSCIENCE tells us.
    Another way that God leads us is by being aware of what He has written in the Bible.

    The METHODIST CHURCH is about to do its submission.
    I hope that they will listen to their CONSCIENCE... that Right is Right and Wrong is WRONG.

    TREASON is wrong.
    Treason is stealing from the people what belongs to them.
    TREASON IS ABUSING of the peole of their TRUST.

    THEY MUST HAND THE Government back to the people immediately.

    And STAND LIKE A MAN AND FACE UP TO THE JUSTICE ...that is required for the crime you committed.

    Methodist Church must follow their conscience and stand with the Truth.
    Give the government back to the people and criminals must face up to the Courts.

  30. Well, it looks like the Lord Mayor of London and many if not most of the Members of the British Parliament will need to be referred to mental health specialists, because they're seriously considering erecting the statue to Thatcher.

    Maybe you'd prefer to erect a statue of your own, in Ratu Sukuna Park, in honour of Rajend Naidu.

  31. first you wash HIS feet then you do a statue of HIM!!
    no need to do a statue for a mere mortal called rajend naidu
    statues are reserved for super man like the Glorious Leader of Fiji. Look at the man's achievement. Taking a country BACKWARD!!

  32. remember the last time we heard of the Lord Mayor of London he was left hanging in mid air on a malfunctioning cable !! has he been brought down? He is obviously quite capable of doing silly things!

  33. First you wash HIS feet then you do a statue of HIM!! no need to do a statue for a mere mortal called rajend naidu statues are reserved for super man like the Glorious Leader of Fiji. Look at the man's achievement. Taking a country BACKWARD!!

  34. Yes, they should build a statue to the Glorious Leader in Ratu Sukuna Park. Better add that to the new Constitution. Just delete the part about elections -- the document was getting too long anyway.

  35. the Hindu feet washing brigade after doing "the PM's" feet should move on to "the A-G's" feet. Remember he too is an important deity in the current Fiji political cosmos! His blessings is also very important!

  36. editor,
    The regime propaganda paper the Fiji Sun has today (16/4) published two letters on Fiji elections with a pretense of showing it entertains public debate on it.
    Sukha Singh says the Government should make it easy for every political party or person to contest the elections. And, Savenaca Vakaliwaliwa wants the Government to "be consistent,lift the critetia for candidates and allow the voters to hear them out and decide for themselves".
    These two gentlemen have obviously not noticed that that is precisely what "the Government" - the illegal military dictatorship in Fiji - does NOT want. Why do they think the dictatorship has put in place the Political Party's decree?
    It is to make it easy for the "current leadership" to retain power in a bogus election. And part of the strategy for that bogus election is to make it HARD for other political parties!
    Sukha and Savenaca might not realize it that their suggestion is unwittingly undermining the regime's Machiavellian strategy.
    Hope they don't get a late night visit from the Gestapo!
    rajend naidu


  37. you are right. some people with fancy titles before their names are real laand people. take for example "the Vice-Chancellor and President" of the USP. Now he is a laand fella - everyone knows that.I think Prof. warden narsey who got kicked out of USP for his anti-regime opinions can confirm that.

  38. @ Vutuki Meo ( sad I have to quote your name)

    I find your writing hilarious funny and occasionally contain a grain of truth.

    However with a name like that, you should not be speaking about God and the Bible. It is so contradictory to speak of God and the Bible and have a name like that. Even if you speak of the truth, the Bible is clear that Jesus does not allow evil spirits from spreading the Gospel.

    So either change your name if you want to speak of the Bible, God and the church, or don't speak of these at all.

  39. To Anonymous 2.40pm:

    The Hindu feet washing brigade after doing the PM's and AG's feet should do their behind. After all, what is left of out dignity?

    The bloody coup-supporting sanatanis led by that imbecile Dewan Chand have really denigrated us.

    Dewan has plenty of money but no honour, dignity or izzat. He and his dumb-ass lackeys in the sabha are an absolute disgrace.

  40. @Anonymous5:50 Yes I agree with you , it is a sad name. I took it on because of stupid non-sensical rantings by one Semi Meo. When he apologised for his stupidity and vowed not to do it again, I stopped using "Vutuki Meo" on that day. However, the next week he came back on, so we resurrected the name. I'm going to continue using the name unless C4.5 gives me a new name to operate under. As far as what you say about "evil spirits are not allowed to spread the gospel".... You are wrong my friend. Go read Philippians 1:14-18 Paul says it doesn't matter whether these evil people preach Jesus out of envy etc.... the fact that Christ is preached, I rejoice" So I don't know which bible you are reading. If its the Readers Digest version, you should throw it away. on Centre for International Studies: Time for foreign leaders to admit

  41. @Vutuki Meo...I think you should go read Phillipians 1:14-18 again!..it ain't about evil people preaching the
    gospel..but about the way the gospel is preached!
    Anon 5.50 is right..evil spirits is not synonymous with the holy spirit, so they should not be allowed to spread the gospel! Stop mutilating the bible!

  42. @Vutuki Meo..
    The Methodist should have realized that the 1987 and 2000 coup were an act of treason..where were they? How come this has only become an issue since 2006..is it because it got it's ass kicked!

  43. @ Vutuki Meo

    Sir your comment taken, and sure I do not have a perfect grasp of the Bible.

    But it is annoying and wrong that you have adopted a name which commonly means "sodomising someone" and in this case that someone is a Meo, and be quoting at the same time from the Bible my brother. Period.

    c4.5 should take note - lets elevate the debate to the issues.

  44. editor,
    We read in the article US torture of prisoners is 'indisputable' independent report finds (the guardian 16/4) that "Report on US rendition programme by non partisan thinktank finds highest officials were responsible for torture".
    Who were the "highest officials"? Have they been brought to court to face justice? We know the officials who tortured the prisoners in Fiji have not been brought to court to face justice and will unlikely be - if past experience is anything to go by. And we say that is wrong.
    Isn't the same true for the "highest officials" of The US who "were responsible for torture"?
    rajend naidu

  45. How were the American officials "responsible for torture"? Isn't it because they rendered prisoners to other countries where torture is practised, as in Fiji?

    Before you remark about the mote in your neighbour's eye, remove the plank from your own.

  46. VM@7.12pm You're right. It's time to put Vutuki Meo to rest. It has served its purpose. Let's elevate the debate. Vinaka

  47. @Coup fourpointfive and anonymous 11:06
    Point taken.
    I'll change my name.
    If ever Semi Meo or Kamlesh Kumar come back with stupid nonsensical arguments I will take on a name that will make them think before they write.

    My new name will be "Brook Cherith"

    -To @Dakuwaqa and Freedom Cell, I havent forgotten your request. I will e-mail you guys in time.

  48. editor,
    PBS News Hour 5.00 PM 17/4 interview with two members of the Task Force on Detainee Treatment (who produced the independent US prisoner torture report I mentioned above).
    Former Rep James Jones (D)Oklahoma
    and Former Brig-General David Irvine(Ret) US Army.
    Let me just share their concluding remark. They said it was critically important for the facts relating to the treatment of prisoners by the US Government in the name of the American people to be laid before the American people and the American Congress - not to mount a witch-hunt but to show the need to get back to our values and our respect for the rule of law and international norms.
    (And, of course we in Fiji need to get back to ours)
    rajend naidu

  49. Rajend Naidu, fair enough.

  50. Brook Cherith, thank you.

  51. what can rajend naidu say that can be regarded "fair enough"?
    only people who can do that are "independent" people like "independent" journalist Graham Davis, and regime Ministry of Truth permanent secretary Sharon Jones Smith and that slater fella in Nz and of course Croz walsh. rajend naidu, nah!

  52. Instead of admitting the road map to democracy chartered by the military regime was not consistent with the demands of good democratic process the MSG leaders whole-heartedly embrace the regime and its plans . Mick Beddoes the former Fijian MP says this is not the right way for the MSG to conduct itself. He is too right. The way the MSG has been behaving towards the illegal Fiji military regime is disgraceful.But many Melanesians say their leadership's conduct with their own people is often nothing but disgraceful!' Why should they be overly concerned about the ordinary people of Fiji?


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