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An avenue best left unexplored

Written By : General Editor. If the Great Council of Chiefs cannot produce a quorum it will not sit. This is the firm decision of interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe
27 May 2008 12:00

Written By : General Editor. If the Great Council of Chiefs cannot produce a quorum it will not sit. This is the firm decision of interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
Now it is quite likely, bearing in mind the comments and attitudes of many chiefs and most provincial councils, that there won’t be a sufficient number of chiefs present at the next meeting whose major business will be (or should be) to name a vice-president.
The suspended members of the GCC have never been Cdre Bainimarama’s favourite people. And ever since he so famously and so publicly advised them to go and drink home brew under a mango tree, many of the chiefs have heartily reciprocated the sentiment.
The result appears likely to be that not enough chiefs and provincial councils will accept the new GCC membership regulations and show up. At the same time, Fiji needs a vice-president.
The President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, is ageing and ailing. He should be allowed to retire with grace and dignity to spend his twilight years in the bosom of his people – but this cannot be when there is no-one to replace him as head of state since the GCC declined the recommendation of the Interim Government for vice president last year.
Now if the chiefs cannot meet through lack of a quorum for some other reason, the way is open for Cdre Bainimarama to declare himself president – as he has done once before.
Legal or not, he will be able to take the title and powers of president in effect issuing promulgations as he sees fit. These would have not only the authority of the office of the president but the backing of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
It’s an avenue Fiji should not wish to explore, yet it looks increasingly likely that we are heading in that direction.
At the same time, the National Council for Building a Better Fiji is at full speed in its mission to produce a People’s Charter for Change and Progress which, we are told, will be put before the people in a November referendum.
But great difficulties and uncertainties lie ahead here also. Referendums are useful in deciding single issues but a whole range of changes such as the charter is likely to contain run the risk of offering something to offend everybody. It will be difficult in the extreme to have this pass a national vote.
And what then? We may well end up with a president and people at loggerheads. That’s another avenue best left unexplored.



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