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On my terms: Bainimarama points way ahead

Sunday, June 01, 2008

THERE are many ways and means to nominate the President and Vice-President, says interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

And, he said, the restructure of the Great Council of Chiefs would bring about great good.

He said if chiefs continued to drag their feet on nominations for the GCC, there would be no quorum.

"If there are no chiefs, then there's no quorum," he said.

"We can find ways and means to nominate the President."

He said the same would apply to the nomination for a vice-presidency.

Chapter Seven and Part One of the 1997 Constitution on executive authority says the President and the Vice-President are appointed by the GCC after consultation with the PM.

Commodore Bainimarama did not elaborate, only saying there were many options to consider.

"The corrupt chiefs say the provincial councils are not supporting us because the chiefs who have been political are pulling them away from coming on board.

"The most unfortunate thing is that the events of December 5 were carried out by the military.

"If it was carried out by the church or the GCC it would have been okay."

He said this would have been endorsed by countries like the United States of America.

"Because usually when the military does this, it's seen as a grab for power. But we can't let the chiefs dictate how we do things because they've been very corrupt.

"That's why we're changing the GCC structure. We want people who are not corrupt to come on board with this.

"We can't let the church decide for us because the church has been politicised.

"They were politicised in 1987, they were politicised in 2000 everyone in Fiji knows that."

Commodore Bainimarama said the chiefs were bankrolled by the church and politics through the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party.

"So we've taken it upon ourselves because we think we're the only entity that can do this and that's most unfortunate.

"Because we're the military and with the military all over the world, as soon as you overturn the elected government, you're seen as being out to grab power.

"If the chiefs don't want to come in, if the people don't want to come on board with the charter, there'll be no elections."

Commodore Bainimarama said elections would be held on his terms and it was important for everyone to join in the charter process.

He reiterated the need for the SDL to join the process and urged it to bring in its supporters.

He said many would be surprised at the number of people wanting to participate in the process.

He said if the SDL came into power in two years time and decided to remove institutions like the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption and bring back controversial bills like the Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill, then he would step in.

"We've decided on the charter we've decided that this (charter and institution removals) is not going to happen. If you do it, I'll remove you.

"The reason is for us to come on board the charter so there'll be no coup. That is the reason."

He said the charter would be formulated by consensus and inclusive of all views. "But the people who have not given their views, if they don't say, ok I agree with the charter at some stage then there'll be no elections.

"Because what's the use of elections if SDL wins and two months down the line, they change everything else. What's the use of having elections?"

However, he stressed that dialogue would have to continue with deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase and the churches.

"The statement by Qarase that a lot of people don't support the charter is rubbish," said Commodore Bainimarama.

Lawyer Jon Apted declined to comment.

Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum could not be reached for a comment.

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