Fiji opposition parties accuse Australia and NZ of self-interest | Pacific Beat

Fiji opposition parties accuse Australia and NZ of self-interest

Fiji opposition parties accuse Australia and NZ of self-interest

Updated 9 October 2013, 20:37 AEDT

Fiji's opposition political parties have accused Australia and New Zealand of acting prematurely in saying that Fiji is making progress towards a democracy.

Dr Tupeni Baba, speaking on behalf of the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, says both countries are acting in their own self-interest by trying to build closer diplomatic links with the coup installed military government.

The UFDF, which represents Fiji's three main opposition parties, says the new constitution is highly flawed, as has been shown in a recent analysis of the document by the NGO, the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

Dr Baba says the UFDF has issued a statement calling on Australia and New Zealand to realise that Fiji is not becoming more democratic.

Presenter:Bruce Hill

Speaker:Dr Tupeni Baba, SODELPA party, Fiji;

BABA: It's calling on those governments that had prematurely said that it was time for the elections, that Fiji had made significant steps in the preparation for the elections, particularly the Constitution and the reasons for its conduct and independence and so forth to note that they're comments were premature, they had really not analysed the Constitution as they should have done.

HILL: Well those countries don't seem to be paying much attention to the United Front for a Democratic Fiji. They seem to be trying to push ahead with getting better relations with the interim government. Why do you think they're doing that?

BABA: For they're own interests, I think. They have a lot of interests in Fiji and they just wanted Fiji to go through an exercise that will enable them to get out of their commitments and obligations, to make sure that Fiji, like other nations in the Pacific are committed to democracy.

I think it's really expediency and they're own interest and their concerns about whatever might be said about they're own country, rather than the interests of the people of Fiji.

HILL; In the long run, what do you think that the effects of this will be on relations between Fiji on one hand, and Australia and New Zealand, if Australia and New Zealand do go ahead as it appears they're going to, and accept what the coup-installed military government is going to do?

BABA: I think it'll be very sad, because the government of the people, which we hope will emerge afterwards, even though it is very, very bad, we're trying as much as possible to ensure that there is a particular provision left in Section 161, where there is possibility for some changes and I think there is also the request to all these governments to try and make sure that the window that is open at the moment until the end of December is taken advantage of in the light of their premature calls and commitments to Fiji to come to elections.

The other one is that the people of Fiji now realise that in the end, they themselves will have to fight for their own interest, that the so-called interest of the other countries is really self-interest in the end.

HILL: Well, both countries have kept a very strong line against the coup-installed military government in Fiji for nearly 7 years now. It would have to be said that they seem to have held the line more strongly than the people of Fiji, who appear to have done very little to change their circumstances in those 7 years?

BABA: Ah, that can be said as a criticism for us, but I think this has been really a very repressive regime on all aspects, the control in the media, what they meet out to all those people who break the various repressive regulations and laws that they have set in place. So there's very, very little change for the people of Fiji really to break out of it.

HILL: Why would your Opposition political parties even take part in what you clearly feel is going to be a system that's stacked against you?

BABA: I think they thought if we did not take this opportunity, that very, very difficult to get any other change, to change this repressive regime. They have decided to take action, rather than to allow further times to be given to the regime to do what they've been doing. Because all indicators, the standard of living, the infrastructure, the level of socio-economic development of the country so bad. The level of poverty has so risen, that I think they've decided well, it's time for us to face them, even though it is a very bad Constitution.

I think they waited so long, they've tried so hard. We will try and see what we can do under the remaining window that is left to change, at least change certain things and find ways and means to ensure that at least there is a chance for fairer election if we can plug in certain holes here and there and have the elections as scheduled for 2014.

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