Prospects for unity among Fiji opposition parties | Pacific Beat

Prospects for unity among Fiji opposition parties

Prospects for unity among Fiji opposition parties

Updated 24 January 2013, 12:14 AEDT

Fiji's new "United Front for a Democratic Fiji" has pledged to united the country's political parties in leading Fiji to a return to democracy after elections next year.

The Front brings together the SDL, Labour, United Peoples and other parties, although it's failed to gain the support of all the country's unions.

So what are the prospects for a united group of political parties contesting the 2014 elections?

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Akuila Yabaki, chief executive officer, Fiji Citizens Constitutional Forum

YABAKI: There's a move to, not all parties, working together. I think it's a matter of strategy, I think that's the right word, they need to strategise in order to combat the pressure that's coming from the opposite direction. I think there's also an issue of inappropriate decrees at this time, when you move towards democratic elections it's in contradiction that an unelected government is imposing conditions which puts pressures on parties and people at this time when they should be looking to participate in working out how to move forward towards the election. I think there is continuous statements saying that, or re-statements, statements and re-statements that there'll be an election in 2014, and there's a rumour going around that it might even be earlier. So maybe the interim government wants to ensure it's still in control.

COUTTS: Do you know the source of that rumour?
YABAKI: Yes it seems to be close to government but I wouldn't like to quote this. I think it could be that the election may be before 2014.
COUTTS: Alright and you've also been quoted in the press as saying that you think it's against the principles of democracy by having this political party decree?
YABAKI: Yes I think, I affirmed that. What is happening is that it's a bit confusing to the general public, that we've had what we call the people's constitution to which 7,000 submissions have been made, 7,000 means more people than 7,000 because they come in groups and parties and provinces and things. And I think there's no doubt that people have participated. The government if they have listened to the people or through the constitutional process, it's been participatory, which is the right word. But now there is another draft that we are waiting for and those of us who are in the business we want to ensure that we get a clue of what we have, which they're calling the guide draft unfortunately, it should be called the people's draft. 
COUTTS: Who's responsible for that guide draft?
YABAKI: Yeah they're calling it the guide draft.
COUTTS: Yes but who's responsible for producing this particular draft?
YABAKI: This one here I think it's an inside job which we hear, I think it should be out in a week. We need to work more speedily, because the work that needs to be done is to see the new draft, and I think they have said it incorporates much of the good things in what they call the guide draft, which we call the people's draft, and then we'll see and then we'll need to enter into some serious conversation in terms of what we think is appropriate basis for moving into what we may call the 2013 constitution.
COUTTS: What's the feeling on the ground now Reverend Yabaki about the sideways push I guess, because it seems they'll use some of Yash Ghai's draft, the people's draft, what are they feeling about that being dropped?
YABAKI: Generally the solutions, I would call solutions, which are put in place, the guide draft is for people to participate more in the governance of this country. There are two items there, for instance the People's Assembly to which elected and also people who are representatives of civil society and Chiefs and political parties which meet once a year, about October, to which the President would be making a report. By the way the Assembly appoints the President, that's another factor. And therefore the solutions to land problems which have inflicted this country for many, many years, there's a land issues forum, a land reform forum, where stakeholders deal with issues before it goes into parliament. So the new draft, the people's draft, puts a lot of emphasis, a lot of space for people's participation in governance. And in some ways politicians could feel threatened because every year there's an assembly which checks on their performance in parliament. There's a complaint that politicians forget about their populace once they get into parliament. So this is a way of ensuring that their actions, their performance is being checked by people every time there is an assembly, that sort of thing. And it could be understandable that those who get into power could feel uncomfortable about that.


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