The Leaders of SODELPA, Fiji Labour Party and the United Fiji Freedom Party met in Suva this afternoon to continue their discussions on forging a coalition of opposition political parties to contest the 2018 general elections.
In attendance were party leaders Sitiveni Rabuka, Mahendra Chaudhry and Jagath Karunaratne
Speaking on behalf of the parties, Mr Chaudhry said that the meeting agreed to:
• #Draw up a memorandum of agreement to be executed by the leaders of the participating parties
• #Work on a coalition manifesto to be concluded in consultation with and the agreement of all participating parties
• #Address the immediate issues connected with the 2018 elections – appointment of members of the new Electoral Commission and a new Supervisor of Elections with the requisite professional qualifications and independence of office
• #implementation of the recommendations of the Multi National Observer Group which observed the flawed 2014 elections, as well as those of the last Fijian Electoral Commission whose term expired on 9 January. The implementation of their recommendations will require changes to the electoral laws.
• #Pursue the reinstatement of single member constituencies which provides for a more democratic and effective representation of the people as noted by Chief Justice Anthony Gates in one of his recent addresses to the new law graduates, and
• #Continue dialogue with leaders of other opposition parties and proposed political parties with a view to persuade them to join hands
Mr Chaudhry said that the idea of a grand Coalition was well received because the people saw it as a great opportunity
AS the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) prepares for the 2018 General Election, it believes there is no room to target voters based on ethnicity and for voting along racial lines, says party leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
Mr Chaudhry said it was time to abandon such an approach.
"That's not the approach which should be taken to build the Fiji of the future. We can't be looking back. We can't be living in the past where we had the racial polarisation and voting was largely on ethnicity," he said.
"We don't support that kind of concept, that we will be targeting voters of a particular race on a particular agenda confined to that particular race," he said.
Mr Chaudhry said if FLP was to enter into a coalition, there would be no room for these policies.
"If we come into a coalition, then we must have a common manifesto. It's not a question of three parties of a coalition going and fighting elections with three different manifestos.
"We have to have one manifesto, you have to sort out your differences and produce a manifesto that is acceptable to all and will appeal to the people."
Mr Chaudhry is engaged in talks with Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka and Fiji United Freedom Party leader Jagath Karunaratne on forging a coalition to contest the next general election.
Mr Chaudhry said setting aside differences between long-time political opponents was crucial in ensuring progress.
"Views change, people change and that is good if change is for the better," said Mr Chaudhry.
"If we can see eye to eye 20 to 25 years later and we can sit at the same table and talk the same language, that's progress," he said, referring to himself and Mr Rabuka.
"And I think we should take advantage of that and I'm glad that's happening. It's something which may not have been seen as being possible maybe five to 10 years ago. It's possible today because of change in circumstance."
Mr Chaudhry acknowledged that while voting along racial lines may not disappear overnight, it was still the responsibility of leaders and chiefs to achieve this. Source: Fiji Times, 26 January 2017