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'Heel to the people'

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

MEMBER of Opposition Roko Tupou Draunidalo says the military must understand that the "wide" powers given to them means they are no longer the political football of the elected Government to be used in political fights between political parties.

This was her response in Parliament yesterday to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau's speech on the opening of Parliament last week.

"Section 131 of the Constitution puts them above that and gives them a discretion not to act (when told to do so by political masters) if it is their opinion in the best interest of national security, the nation, its peoples and this the people's House because it is the people who pay their salary. They have to heel to the people and not the other way around," she said.

"Not only must it restrain itself from carrying out another military coup as it is the only institution that commits coups in this country — it must also restrain itself from being used in political fights by politely refusing orders that they believe are not consistent with the overall good governance of the nation for now and into the future."

Last week, Ratu Epeli pointed out that the RFMF must wherever and whenever required, support the police in bringing to justice those who want to destroy democracy and impose their will on others.

He said it was their constitutional duty to do so as the ultimate guarantors of the security of the Fijian nation.

"The lesson, however, to the military from the speech of the Commander-in-Chief is, that you must always defer to the elected government of the day," she said.

"Do not be used to get involved in any way. Stay in the shadows and do what you're told by the elected Government after tendering advice on national security issues.

"The military can and should use it's powers under s.131 of the Constitution to independently and fearlessly advise the elected Government of the day to not embroil the military in political matters. As this leads to trouble of the kind that we all wish to avoid."

Ms Draunidalo also thanked Ratu Epeli for his service to the nation and especially during his term as the Speaker of the House.

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