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Showing posts from March 29, 2009

Speculation Elections in November-December, and Other Stories

The NZ DominionPost reports (2 March):  "Fiji's military regime is quietly moving towards general elections for later this year despite public utterances by dictator Voqere Bainimarama rejecting regional calls for an urgent return to democracy, sources in Suva say.  Growing speculation around a November-December election was reinforced by a statement that he had been looking at Indian voting machines this week."  [One really does wonder about the sources for these stories and why no effort is made to check their reliability. Any news is better than no news?  Note also the "unbiased" choice of words!]
Col. Pita Driti continues with his warnings about who will not be allowed to participate in the President's Political Dialogue Forum.  His most recent "victim" is former SDL MP and HotBread owner Mere Samisoni who he accused of supporting the 2000 Speight Coup. She had delivered bread to the coup-makers for which she said they paid.  I suspect Mere did…

(o) Fiji Media Free to Operate But with Responsibility: Leweni Clears the Air

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Fiji Government and military spokesperson Major Neumi Leweni today said that the call for the closure of The Fiji Times is indicative of how serious Government views the need for the media to report with greater responsibility. “This Government has pleaded with the media industry for better understanding of our situation, and to help move the nation forward by reporting fairly, accurately and with greater responsibility given that we are dealing with matters of significant national interests. However, some sections of the media have continued to take a hard-lined approach. In any case, neither the Government nor the military intends to shut down the media here in Fiji,” he said.

He said the International Federation of Journalists and its Asia Pacific director, Jacqueline Park, can therefore rest assured that the media in Fiji will continue to operate with freedom because this is enshrined in our Constitution. Government's position on the media as formally conveyed to the recent Med…

(o) The Fiji Media Council and Government

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The Fiji Media Council has 19 members comprising a representative of each contributing media organisation, an equal number of public members appointed by the Council, and an independent Chair. The Government is represented through the Department of Information. In February this year the FMC commissioned Australian Jack Herman, and Fiji citizens Suliana Sitawibau and Barrie Sweetman (l-r, photo) to review its work and make recommendations for improvement. The Review team received written submissions from 26 media, government and non-government organizations; interviews were conducted with a further 16, and an extraordinary meeting was held with the Media Council attended among others by Riyaz Sayed Khaiyum, CEO, Fiji Broadcasting Corp., and Peni Nonu and two associates of the Department of Information. Government representation is deliberately stressed. The Review report was released last week. (see full report here.)

The critical question was whether the media should be self-regula…

(o) Driti Calls, Media Council Report, NZ Aid

Acting Military Chief Again Calls for Shut Down of Fiji TimesActing Military Commander Colonel Pita Driti has attacked Fiji's largest newspaper The Fiji Times again - and also Fiji Television. He claims both news organisatons are biased against the military. Without specifying the instances of alleged bias, the Land Force Commander Pita Driti, in a military statement issued yesterday, said both media outlets should be shut down. 29 March. Fijivillage.com/Pacific Media Watch. 
Review Says Media Council Must 'Work on' Government Relations The Fiji Media Council Review report says the council needs to take the initiative to work on the relationship between the government and the media.It says the relationship between a government and a free media is never an easy one. Titled "Free and Responsible: Towards a More Effective Media Council", the report says the adversarial nature of the relationship is worsened in Fiji where political instability has been a feature of the…

(o) Beddoes Supports Driti's Call

Fiji Times 28 March. Full text. Ousted opposition leader Mick Beddoes supports Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti's call for restraint from political parties but he disagrees with his choice of words."However, any call for restraint and silence must apply equally to the military and (interim) regime leadership as well as their supporters," said Mr Beddoes said in a press statement today. He said if Colonel Driti could give him those assurances, then he would be silent  "for the duration of the political dialogue process". [Comment: I could not agree more.]

(o) Comment: What Fiji Needs is a Real "Period of Silence"

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There's a pattern in Fiji kick-boxing. In each round one side (or the other) says something to which the other side reacts. Reaction follows reaction, until most gaskets are blown, exhaustion sets in -- and then it starts all over again. Nothing very new is said in these exchanges, no one modifies their previous position, no one feels any better, friends and enemies remain unchanged, and Fiji is not a better or happier or safer place. But that's the way it is as attitudes harden. In Fiji. In late March 2009. Over two years since December 2006. 
It's often difficult to identify the original  triggering comment because everyone's "luggage" is carried forward from the previous round. This week, if we take repeated finger-pointing against the military (as those behind the fire-bombings) as the starting point, Col. Pita Driti (photo) fired back with  threats to ban the SDL, NFP and certain NGO's from  Forum participation and close down the Fiji Times. "The…