Pres­i­dent Kon­rote tells how vote man­dates Gov­ern­ment to ad­vance well­be­ing of all Fi­jians

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - JY­OTI PRATIBHA

The 2018 Gen­eral Elec­tion was free, fair and cred­i­ble, says the Head of State Pres­i­dent Ma­jor-Gen­eral (Ret’d) Jioji Kon­rote.

He re­in­forced this mes­sage dur­ing the 20th At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Con­fer­ence cur­rently un­der­way at the In­terCon­ti­nen­tal Fiji Golf Re­sort and Spa at Nata­dola.

His com­ment comes at an im­por­tant junc­ture where both the main Op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties – SODELPA and Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party – have had much to say about their own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the elec­tions’ re­sults.

Both Op­po­si­tion par­ties have said they plan to lodge a case at the Court of Dis­puted Re­turns on the out­come of 2018 Gen­eral Elec­tion.

The Pres­i­dent said: “Of course, the open­ing of the new ses­sion of Par­lia­ment fol­lowed the out­come of our par­lia­men­tary

elec­tions, which we should all be proud to know were deemed free, fair and cred­i­ble again this year by a multi­na­tional group.

“Our most re­cent elec­tion rep­re­sents only the sec­ond gen­uine demo­cratic elec­tion in Fi­jian his­tory, be­cause it is the 2013 Fi­jian Con­sti­tu­tion that – for the first time – guar­an­tees all Fi­jians one vote that equates to one value.

“The re­sult of this elec­tion again rep­re­sents an elec­toral ref­er­en­dum of our Con­sti­tu­tion, the supreme law of our coun­try that es­tab­lishes the in­sti­tu­tions of our democ­racy and in­sti­tutes the man­dates for the gov­ern­ment of the day to ad­vance the well­be­ing of all Fi­jians, ir­re­spec­tive of any of the dif­fer­ences that – to­gether – com­pose the rich fab­ric of our na­tional life.” Mr Kon­rote high­lighted some ma­jor in­roads Gov­ern­ment made with a num­ber of new leg­is­la­tions.

“It’s be­cause of this Con­sti­tu­tion that landown­ing rights are no longer un­der threat,” he said.

“And it’s be­cause of this Con­sti­tu­tion that we have cre­ated a busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal ethos that is rid of the tu­mult and anx­i­ety of the past, giv­ing Fi­jians re­newed con­fi­dence in our fu­ture.

“Through this year’s elec­tion, only the sec­ond since the Con­sti­tu­tion came into force, this supreme law has been fur­ther ce­mented as the foun­da­tion of Fiji’s fu­ture.”

Since last year’s con­fer­ence, many ma­jor laws have been passed by Par­lia­ment or im­ple­mented. This in­cludes:

the Ac­ci­dent Com­pen­sa­tion Act 2017 com­menced on 1 Jan­uary of this year;

the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties Act 2018; and

the Fair Share of Min­eral Roy­al­ties Act 2018.

Mr Kon­rote said: “Through these changes, thou­sands of or­di­nary Fi­jians are al­ready see­ing the ben­e­fits; the Ac­ci­dent Com­pen­sa­tion Act has paid out $1.2 mil­lion to vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity in times of great per­sonal loss and strife.

“Fi­jians with dis­abil­i­ties are pro­tected more than ever, and em­pow­ered to live out their lives and par­tic­i­pate in our eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment without fear of dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“And landown­ers are tap­ping into a guar­an­teed fair share of the lu­cra­tive min­ing in­dus­try, ad­vanc­ing our na­tional econ­omy and al­low­ing more Fi­jians to tap into the po­ten­tial their land holds,” he said. “20 years ago, very few of us could have imag­ined that Fiji would have pro­gressed to where we stand now; when this con­fer­ence met for the first time, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of our na­tion’s laws was weak, our in­fra­struc­ture lim­ited and our telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions were vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent out­side of ur­ban cen­tres.

“Fiji strug­gled to keep pace with rapid de­vel­op­ments among the more highly-de­vel­oped in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, and our nascent le­gal sys­tem re­flected that.

“I know not all of you were prac­tis­ing in the le­gal pro­fes­sion 20 years ago, some of you may have no mem­o­ries of that time at all. But the Fiji of to­day is far cry from that time.

“The Fiji of to­day is no longer a na­tion of fol­low­ers; when it comes to pre­par­ing for a more sus­tain­able and legally eq­ui­table fu­ture, we stand shoul­der-to-shoul­der with global pow­er­houses.

“Even more im­pres­sively, in many in­stances, we are lead­ing the pack.” He went on to high­light some of Fiji’s suc­cesses on the in­ter­na­tional arena. Fiji has as­sumed in re­cent years:

From the pres­i­den­cies of COP23 and the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly;

To the chair­man­ships of the G-77 plus China, World Bank Small States Fo­rum and Com­mon­wealth Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Or­gan­i­sa­tion; and

To the co-host­ing of the first UN Ocean Con­fer­ence and now the first Pa­cific Is­land coun­try elected to the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.

“Through all of this, it is un­de­ni­able that Fiji’s voice is be­ing am­pli­fied louder and spread farther than at any point in our na­tion’s his­tory,” Pres­i­dent Kon­rote said. And you, as mem­bers of the le­gal fra­ter­nity, are the stan­dard-bear­ers of the new laws in these ar­eas that help Fiji lead from the front, and prove that our talk is more than just talk, it is real and tan­gi­ble ac­tion.” Edited by Epineri Vula

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