President’s address questioned

Opposition MP RoTeimumu Kepa delivering her maiden speech in Parliament yesterday. Picture: SUPPLIED

SOME Opposition members of Parliament have questioned why the President, Jioji Konrote failed to mention the 2006 coup in his address during the opening of the new Parliament term on Monday.

In his speech, Mr Konrote said Fijians had suffered setbacks that carried consequences on a national and generational scale.

He said not only have Fijians been recently freed from the cycle of unrest, political instability and destructive racial vilification that plagued the nation for decades, where threats were made against Fijians, violence was also wielded as a tool of oppression, and some Fijians were made to feel like strangers in their rightful home.

Mr Konrote said those traumatic and destructive events in Fiji’s past could never be repeated.

“The basis of the coups of 1987 and 2000 can be boiled down to the same blatant, harmful and indefensible lie,” Mr Konrote said.

“The lie that Fiji and the Fijian people are somehow stronger divided than we are united.

“That lie was imposed on our people through acts of brute force and violence, accompanied by a political culture of fear, mistrust and communal antagonism that poisoned the minds of Fijians for generations, needlessly pitting them against their countrymen and women, and doing untold damage to the fabric of our national life.

“And we suffer the consequences of those acts and the ills they brought down upon us to this very day,” he said.

In her maiden speech in Parliament yesterday, Opposition MP Ro Teimumu Kepa said Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama left coups on the election agenda, only 1987 and 2000, but no mention of 2006.

She said she wondered why this was the case.

“And surprisingly His Excellency mentioned only the coups of 1987 and 2000 and not the coup of 2006,” Ro Teimumu said.

“I wonder why? Spoke about them constantly and used the word violence.

“He was aided and abetted by the Attorney-General who predicted economic chaos and loss if the Opposition won, and even created imagery of daggers held to necks.

“The Prime Minister was reluctant to rule out another coup. He hedged when challenged by our leader to hold his hand over his heart and renounce coups. He couldn’t do it,” she added.

Opposition MP Mitieli Bulanauca also questioned the President’s failure to recognise the events of 2006 as a coup.

“His Excellency also did not mention the coup of 2006 which the current Prime Minister and his military followers conducted against the will of the people — the SDL government who won consecutive general elections in 2001 and 2006 — despite his army of independents who stood for elections and opposed SDL party,” Mr Bulanauca said.

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