National unity call for Fiji
The leader of Fiji's National Federation Party Biman Prasad says the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has a chance to leave a great legacy for Fiji if he heeds the party's call for a government of national unity.
Dr Prasad has reiterated the call one year after Mr Bainimarama and his FijiFirst party won a landslide victory at the polls.
The opposition MP says many contentious issues still remain in Fiji.
BIMAN PRASAD: Now that we have a parliament, there is an opportunity for this parliament and indeed the Fiji First Government, to rethink how we can move ahead beyond 2018 and going into 2018 with a system, with an electoral decree, with a political party decree that removes all those concerns that have been highlighted by the international community and political parties which believe have not lead to a free and fair election that we had last year.
SALLY ROUND: And will you be moving some of those bills yourself?
BP: We will be moving some of those motions in parliament, I already intend to move a motion on a number of things in relation to how we can change some of those decrees in preparation for the election in 2018. There are a lot of contentious issues, not only in the constitution but within the decrees that are now part of the constitution that need to be relooked at, and the best way to relook at that as a country, as a parliament is for the government to either set up a bipartisan committee to look at all those or think about a much more inclusive approach by forming a government of national unity and using the next three years to address all those concerns that not only political parties have here but also the international community.
SR: Bringing in members of the opposition into ministerial posts is that what you're saying?
BP: Exactly, because then we can all work together as 50 members of parliament and it will be easier for us to deal with some of these contentious issues.
SR: But what's the chance of that though?
BP: Interestingly nobody has rejected that outright. I still feel, that given the disagreements we see coming out of the constitution, out of the decree, maybe this is an opportune time for the Fiji First Government to consider this so that we can all move together on this and leave a legacy beyond 2018 of a constitution, of a process where we can address all those concerns and really then claim to have genuine democracy in this country and it's not too much.
SR: But you'd have to change the constitution?
BP: Of course, and the only way to change the constitution is to look at the provisions of the constitution, which is quite draconian in the first place, but if we want to change the constitution, there will be no better way to do that than to have a government of national unity where we can have the 75 percent majority and then if the people feel that the parliament can deal with that then the people will support that. We are a small party, we have no interest in being in government, and I've been on record that we would be quite happy to stay out of government and support a government of national unity where we can deal with some of the issues and dissolve them before the 2018 election.
SR: And these are iTaukei issues as well?
BP: These are iTaukei issues, these are constitutional issues, these are issues about separation of powers, these are issues about draconian decrees, like the political parties decree, the electoral decree, the media decree and some of the restrictions emanating out of these decrees that plays on individuals. Given our history of creating dialogue, the NFP was the party which negotiated the 1997 constitution, out of the racist 1990 constitution, which again was a constitution imposed by a military regime then, and under that constitution a military commander became prime minister, we have a very similar situation. We have a situation where the army commander, the current prime minister, who did the coup, who ran the country for eight years and imposed the constitution, had an election, won the election and he's the prime minister now. I think the responsibility is on him, right now, to show that kind of leadership and maybe leave a legacy, and I think, I truly believe Mr Bainimarama can leave a legacy of genuine democracy in this country if he is prepared to take a different cause, we've had a year, we should all reflect on it, and I hope he will reflect on it and think about this dialogue, think about this idea of a government of national unity, to dissolve some of these contentious issues that keep coming out of political parties and that have been quite clearly highlighted by the International community.
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