Maiden speeches in Fiji parliament express anger and hope
Anger and hope were among feelings expressed as MPs made their maiden speeches in Fiji's 50-seat legislature this week.
The MPs and officials in Fiji's new parliament have been settling in to their roles this week, making their first speeches, and getting to grips with procedure.
Anger and hope were among feelings expressed as MPs made their maiden speeches in the 50-seat legislature.
Sally Round reports.
The Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called on parliamentarians to draw a line under the past and work together for Fiji's future. He also explained why the military he led in 2006 removed the last elected government.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: We had no choice. We took the tough decision necessary to keep Fiji united to prevent large numbers of our people from being relegated to third class citizens.
He said he intended to run an inclusive government but said the opposition shouldn't just criticise for the sake of it.
FRANK BAINIMARAMA: So I'm extending a sincere invitation to my political opponents especially the honourable leader of the opposition to work with me to improve the prospects of every Fijian, especially our young people.
The Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa, expressed relief at being allowed a voice for the first time in eight years. She said the cycle of coups had cost the country more than 10 billion dollars.
RO TEIMUMU KEPA: Coups cannot occur or succeed in this country unless the military is involved and we therefore look to the new military commander to return our military back to the professional disciplined force it once was and to recommit itself to acting in defence of our people and not against them.
The leader of the National Federation Party Biman Prasad said those elected had a responsibility to make Fiji's democracy work.
BIMAN PRASAD: I did not resign as a professor of economics to pursue politics as a career. I joined politics with a deep conviction that with true collective action and perseverance we can change things in Fiji for the better, however difficult the obstacles might be.
He said restrictive decrees must be repealed and the Auditor General's reports of the last eight years immediately tabled. Another opposition MP Niko Nawaikula said he despised those on the government benches.
NIKO NAWAIKULA: Coming here on the very first day of parliament, the feeling that I had was that of anger and animosity towards the other members on the other side of the house, and rightly so because for the first time I'm coming face to face with the members of a government I hold responsible for suppressing the rights of the native people of this country.
He told parliament the constitution was imposed on the people and he said a constitutional review commission should be set up.
NIKO NAWAIKULA: Not doing so, Mr (Sic) Speaker will (be) an invitation for another coup.
THE SPEAKER: Honourable Member, please be more responsible with the statements you are making, so that you're not making threats.
Sodelpa's Semesa Karavaki took the opportunity to challenge his sacking in the 2006 coup led by by Frank Bainimarama.
SEMESA KARAVAKI: Today is a great day because I now have the right to say this in his presence - my only fault was because I was the Supervisor of Elections and I'd exercised impartiality in my judgement on elections issues.
Timoci Natuva, who has responsibility for national security and defence in the new government, vowed to deliver the Prime Minister's promise people in Fiji would be able to sleep soundly at night.
TIMOCI NATUVA: We will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt our new democracy and thwart the will of the power so i want to assure the nation that law and order will be maintained and we will have zero tolerance for any disturbance or disruption.
Timoci Natuva said the world was watching Fiji's new parliament and it was up to those elected to show they can unite the country.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: