Fiji seeks to end coup culture

The National Council for Building a Better Fiji co-chaired by Suva Archbishop Petero Mataca and coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama has endorsed a People's Charter for Change seeking an end to the country's "coup culture".

PR Inside reports Fiji's interim government released a draft charter on Wednesday that recommends changes to the South Pacific nation's voting system and military in order to end the country's coup culture.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a coup d'etat in December 2006, the fourth coup in Fiji in the last 21 years.

Last month, he reneged on a promise to hold democratic elections by March 2009, saying the timetable was no longer achievable because of the need for electoral reforms.

Under Fiji's 1997 Constitution, indigenous Fijians, ethnic Indians and other races vote in separate race-based constituencies. Bainimarama has said this system must change before Fiji can hold a free and fair election.

The charter recommends introducing a one-man, one-vote system in place of the current communal-based system, which allocates more seats in Parliament to indigenous Fijians than to ethnic Indians. The draft also recommends the voting age be lowered from 21 to 18.

The role of the military would also be redefined to enhance its "community development partnership", the draft said. This would be achieved through mandatory youth service and "basic infrastructure rehabilitation and development", especially in the rural areas through an expanded engineering corps, and provision of security services.

Chief among the charter's 12 key principles is the removal of political, economic and social conditions for coups and the addition of measures to prevent future uprisings, such as seizing the assets of executors and supporters of any coup.

The draft also calls for the establishment of civic programs to raise public awareness about the injustices and illegality of coups, as well as issues of democracy and good governance.


Fiji government says it wants to end coup culture (PR Inside, 6/8/08)


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