Banner graphic from the official web protal of the Fiji Government. Image Credit: Ministry of Information, Communication and Media Relations, Fiji Government
Survivor Fiji (2) - The Real World Outwit, Outplay, Outlast
The neighbors of Fiji, in an attempt to inject some territorial and institutional sanity to the island region, previewed a report to be submitted to the Pacific Island Forum that examined Fiji’s coup of December of last year which came down hard in its recommendations as to the authenticity of the current situation.
In the report, that is expected to be at the center of regional discussions when the 16 nations member Pacific Island Forum next meets in March, the group labeled the coup “unconstitutional and unacceptable."
Meanwhile, the observance of human rights and free speech in Fiji, while the military is in charge of Fiji and its governmental activities, is not acceptable.
Details published by The Associated Press -
AP Exclusive: Pacific group says Fiji coup unacceptable, military leader should resign
The Associated Press - Published: February 19, 2007
SUVA, Fiji: An investigative team examining last year's coup in Fiji for South Pacific leaders says the country's military commander should resign immediately as prime minister, and calls for elections within two years to restore democracy.
A copy of the report, to be presented to the forum soon, was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The report said armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who appointed himself prime minister after seizing power, must "vacate the position" and allow a civilian to be take the post.
It said elections in Fiji should be held within "18 to 24 months if not sooner" — rejecting a timetable of up to five years given by some members of the military government as "excessive."
The group — Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Sato Kilman, Samoan Environment Minister Faumuina Luiga, retired Papua New Guinea Chief Justice Arnold Amet and Australian armed forces chief Gen. Peter Cosgrove — spoke to dozens of officials on all sides of the Fiji dispute in their monthslong inquiry.
The group questioned the need for the state of emergency that was declared immediately after the bloodless takeover, and demanded Fiji's military forces "immediately cease human rights abuses."
The group said it heard of "numerous cases of citizens being denied their constitutional rights ... subjection to intimidation, harassment and physical abuse" by the military. It didn't provide details.
In the days after the coup, the military detained and questioned many senior bureaucrats and officials from the ousted government of elected Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Most were released unharmed.
Bainimarama says he seized power to clean up alleged corruption during Qarase's administration, and stop planned laws to pardon plotters in a 2000 coup and hand lucrative land rights to indigenous Fijians, not the large ethnic Indian minority.
Bainimarama has promised to call elections to restore democracy, but hasn't set a timetable.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Monday she had been briefed on the report and that it "should be seen in Fiji as a way forward."
And this related dispatch about human rights in Fiji from Radio New Zealand –
Fiji laywer says intimidation has ended freedom of speech
Radio New Zealand - Wellington,New Zealand - Posted at 2:55pm on 19 Feb 2007
A senior Fiji lawyer says the military's intimidation of people has ended any freedom of speech in the country.
He made the comment in the wake of a damning report compiled by a group of senior lawyers that challenges the legality of December's military takeover.
The report described the assumption of executive power by Commodore Frank Bainimarama as riddled with legal inaccuracies, misapplications of the law and a selective reading of the case.
The group -who do not wish to be named for fear of retaliation - prepared the report in response to one released by the Fiji Human Right Commission which appeared to justify the coup.
A lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous, says the climate in Fiji is repressive and people are fearful for the security of their families and jobs.
He says there are a number of cases of people being taken to the army barracks, roughed up and coming back silent.
Media Statement by PM Bainimarama - Laying Solid Foundation for Fiji's Return to Democracy - 15/2/07
A Fiji democracy activist, Laisa Digitaki, has told the Fijilive news website that continuing human rights violations could very well become the main cause of the interim regime's downfall if they are not careful.
At MAXINE, it's "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" until the next dispatch on the real world Survivor Fiji!
UPDATE - Someone "VOTES" himself off of the island! This from Fijilive -
Colonel resigns from Fiji army
Fijilive - Monday February 19, 2007
Fiji's first contingent commander to the UN mission in Iraq has officially resigned from the Fiji army.
Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni confirms that former Fiji Land Force Commander Colonel Mel Saubulinayau has handed in his resignation, but did not specify the reason.
"I won't be able to comment on this," he said.
Col Saubulinayau was earlier sent on leave by the military after a failed attempt by the previous government to have him replace army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama ahead of the December 5, 2006 military coup.
Major Leweni said that military investigations against Col Saubulinayau will continue despite his resignation.