‘The mercury has really come down’ : PM Rabuka

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka believes military commander, Brigadier General Kalouniwai should be feeling very comfortable about the way the government is now operating. 

Earlier this month the Commander issued a statement to media, in which he noted concerns over “the sweeping changes of the current government to establish a firm transition of power and democratic control as the government of the day.”  

In an interview with Islands Business this week, Rabuka said:  “We did do our own duty according to the law and I am sure he is very comfortable after seeing how we have begun to settle down in the first four weeks. And we have the opening of parliament on Friday, and then the debate, we are very quickly settling down, the mercury has really come down, the temperature has come down, he should be very comfortable with the way things are going. 

“There are some personal issues with the Commissioner of Police now, and the Constitutional Offices Commission, but they should not affect the efficiency and the work of the police force. It should be ok.” 

Last week Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho was suspended on full pay on the advice of the Constitutional Services Commission (COC), and Acting Commissioner of Police, Juki Fong Chew has announced the departure of a number of other senior officers. 

Other significant changes have seen the Public Service Commission announce a reshuffle and cessation of contracts of some permanent secretary roles and the CEO of the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation has had his role terminated by the FBC’s newly appointed board. Prisons Commission Francis Kean and Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem have also been suspended, pending investigation by the COC. 

COC members, Opposition leader Voreqe Bainimarama and Roko Tupou Draunidalo walked out of last week’s meeting, and a letter from Bainimarama to the President released this week quotes from Saneem’s response to the allegations against him, in which he alleges a conflict of interest on the part of some government appointees to the committee. 

In his letter to the President, Bainimarama writes: “I urge Your Excellency to look into this matter, as you will be receiving advice from COC based on a decision that was arrived at in a blatant disregard for natural justice, procedural fairness, and which has undermined COC as a constitutional institution. Any advice to Your Excellency that flows from such decision making will compromise your office and Your Excellency.” 

On Monday Prime Minister Rabuka told Islands Business that he thinks the Opposition leader should return to the Constitutional Offices Commission when it next meets. 

“I hope he comes back because he has a role and all of the officers that are now being subjected to COC deliberations were officers that he had appointed, or [were] appointed during his administration and he owes it to them to come and be their first line of defence at the Commission. ‘Ok we’ve appointed them in our time because of this and that’. If he walks away it shows that he has given them up.”