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DROWNED HOPE: Frank Bainimarama’s most influential spin doctor, Graham Davis, has told friends he has resigned his consultancy with Qorvis and will soon be relocating back to Australia
On the surface, he blames ailing health. But he is also known to have grown deeply frustrated with the power-at-all-costs style of rule shown by Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as the reality and frictions of government sinks in, with a yawning deficit to cover and an increasingly assertive military.
For the past three years, 62-year-old Davis has declared himself as a consultant to the GeoPolitical Solutions division of the global communications company, Qorvis-MSLGROUP – better known as Qorvis in Fiji – which has had a long term contract to burnish the Fiji government’s poor reputation. He has also had three years as a Fiji Sun columnist.
Three sets of friends contacted by Fiji Leaks confirmed that Davis considers seeing the country through to elections last year as being the conclusion of his commitment to help the Bainimarama regime. His final published commentary on his Grubsheet blog is dated September 22 last year, titled ‘The New Democracy Begins.’ He hasn’t written any further updates. Fijileaks had reproduced his September 22 column.
But in that very same September 2014 posting lies clues to the inevitable break with Bainimarama that could only have been hastened by this week’s shocking turn of events relating to Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald and his attempts to bring to court three of his officers accused of bashing up and indecently assaulting escaped prisoners.
In September last year Davis was happy to blast critics of the country’s judiciary:
‘The truth is that no credible evidence has ever been advanced that the executive branch of the Fijian Government influences the judiciary, nor that the judiciary does the Government’s bidding. Indeed the Chief Justice, Anthony Gates, and his fellow judges pride themselves on being fiercely independent, as does Christopher Pryde, the NZ-born Director of Public Prosecutions.’ Graham Davis, September 22 2014
The turn of events this past week surrounding the three police officers accused of assault, indecent assault and rape in two prisoner-escape cases could only have confirmed Davis’ intention to walk away. Attempts by the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring the three accused police officers to court were thwarted when they were recruited directly into the Army and provided with an Army lawyer.
In March 2013, when the 9-minute video first emerged of bank-robber Iowane Benedito and Epeli Qaraniqio being beaten Davis had written:
‘Nothing can justify the abuse these recaptured prisoners suffered – something that the police themselves have acknowledged by expressing their own disquiet and announcing an investigation. It may not have been as bad as some human rights abuses in other parts of the world but that’s not the point. This is Fiji and we generally don’t see ourselves in this way. That’s why there has been such shock and revulsion across the community – people saying that it made them cry and they couldn’t sleep – which is an encouraging sign of the moral state of the nation in itself.’
But now Bainimarama has set a course back to rule by military – with Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho named acting Police Commissioner, and the three accused still sheltered by the military – all that Davis has worked for appears to be coming undone. Fiji is no more a democracy now, measured by the strength of its various independent judiciary functions – than it was when Davis first started cheer leading for Bainimarama in the aftermath of the December 2006 coup.
Fijileaks: We are yet to hear from Davis for comment.