Sacrificing Principles – reply to Deo Narain

Postdate: 26/ 09/ 2008

Suva, 26 September 2008 Editor Fiji Times Dear Editor, I wish to respond to a letter by Mr. Deo Narain, “Sacrificing Principles”, published in the Fiji Times, 25 September 2008, and suggesting that the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) supported the 2006 coup. CCF never supported the 2006 coup. When the coup was perpetrated on 5 December, CCF was the first civil society organisation to issue a firm condemnation of the action by the military. Why is this regularly being overlooked? When the President issued an invitation to engage in the National Council for Building a Better Fiji, we decided to respond positively to his invitation. We however put four conditions to our participation in the Charter process: 1. There would be no abrogation of the 1997 Constitution. 2. The process would be as inclusive of possible, involving those disagreeing with the current Interim government. 3. Freedom of expression during the deliberation, voicing diversity with no reprisals. 4. The future role of the military would be discussed. These conditions were all accepted and fulfilled during the process. CCF did not engage with the persons and their actions, we engaged with the idea of a Charter. We were convinced that tackling the deep-rooted issues that have paralysed the country for so long might be a way of moving the country out of its stalemate and taking it forward. Considering the pattern of coups in the last 20 years, we decided to take the risk to engage with the process and try to design practical solutions for Fiji to recover. We were aware that our position, walking the middle path, was not going to be easy and could be misunderstood, a position that we review on a continuous basis. However, we are taking responsibility for our participation in the Charter process. Yours sincerely, Akuila Yabaki CEO, Citizens’ Constitutional Forum

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