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Fiji: formation of political parties

January 16, 2013

The Fiji Government has proposed a decree restricting union leaders and other public officers from founding political parties, and imposing onerous conditions on political party formation.

The Government joins with Australian trade union leaders in raising serious concerns with these proposals.

In the last few days I made clear that Fiji’s transition to democracy must enshrine human rights protections, media freedoms, judicial independence and parliamentary checks and balances.

I said there were areas of the draft constitution proposed by Fiji’s Constitutional Commission – including the re-establishment of the Great Council of Chiefs and the appointment of a largely unelected People’s Assembly – that could reasonably be objected to.

This restriction on the nature of political parties, however, cannot be justified. Vibrant political parties are a vital part of a democracy.

Australia applies travel and financial sanctions on Fiji and members of its government.

Last week I met with Fiji’s Foreign Minister, Inoke Kubuabola, to discuss Fiji’s return to democracy and other regional issues.

I made clear Australia’s sanctions would remain in place until conditions had been met for a genuine democratic transition.

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2 Comments
  1. January 16, 2013 5:16 pm

    well done bob – greg mclean

  2. Ralf Kluin permalink
    January 17, 2013 9:19 am

    I agree with your governments conditions. It seems to me that having followed events in Fiji, the military, has failed to stabilise civilian society. As James Madison once said, “Wherever the real power in a government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our government, the real power lies in the majority of the community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be feared, not from acts of government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the government is the mere instrument of the major number of constituents”. I suspect that as is the case in Australia, some citizens have difficulty understanding the role of workers union when compared to a business-owners union, and in the case of the military they seem glued to the idea that the interests of business owners is paramount.

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