His role in the collapse of the National Bank of Fiji, the "Kama Sutra Affairs", the 'Stephen Affair', his chairmanship of the Cakaudrove Provincial Council, and him appearing with army uniforms during crisis or later with tabuas. Above all, he is still hiding behind the sulu of his 1990 Immunity Decree. Now, he is claiming [Fiji Times, 29 June 20016]: "Since my re-emergence into the political arena, sadly people have looked right back to the beginning in 1987. They never look back to 1997 and the Constitution that we had produced with the co-operation of the National Federation Party and Fiji Labour Party. They forget the effort put in towards the re-engineering of our Constitution between 1992 and 1997 and then the elections of 1999".
We have written on the 1992 election, and below is the continuation, on the 1994 election that led to the 1997 Constitution
"The irony is that Indo-Fijian political leaders had become power brokers in the face of Fijian disunity. The newly-elected Prime Minister Rabuka could not ignore their demands for constitutional change in the light of political and ‘kama sutra’ scandals hovering over his head. But he could find refuge in the constitutional process, and he was forced to initiate negotiations between Reddy and Chaudhry culminating in the setting up of the Constitutional Review Commission (The Reeves Commission)."- Victor Lal, 2001
By VICTOR LAL
Fiji's Daily Post, 2001
It was the second general election under the new racist Constitution promulgated in 1990 after the two military take-overs in 1987 by Sitiveni Rabuka. The election was notable for the fact that the incumbent Prime Minister Rabuka was not expected to do well as dissidents in his party had broken away to form new political parties to challenge his rule. Fiji had undergone several changes prior to the 1994 elections. The President, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, had passed away, and the Great Council of Chiefs had elected Ratu Mara as his successor.
The 1994 election campaign was dominated by intra-ethnic instead of inter-ethnic issues and conflicts and debates centred around communal issues because each group was fighting for communal seats. For the Indo-Fijians, the central issue of the racially biased constitution took a back seat to FLP/NFP rivalry, most of it at a personal level between Mahendra Chaudhry and Jai Ram Reddy. Chaudhry and the FLP were repeatedly taunted by the NFP for their support for Rabuka in the aftermath of the 1992 election. The NFP claimed that the support had yielded nothing. The FLP, on the other hand, accused the NFP for being too close to Rabuka, who unwittingly reinforced this image when he announced that he planned to set up a government of national unity with Reddy after the elections. FLP also attacked NFP for being an ‘Indian’ party as opposed to FLP’s multi-racial character.
On the Fijian side, Josevata Kamikamica hastily launched a new political party, Fijian Association Party (FAP) to challenge Rabuka and the SVT. The FAP had the tacit support of the President Mara who had openly expressed his support for Kamikamica for the premiership at the Great Council of Chiefs but he was outvoted, in part by Rabuka’s politicised nominees on the Council. The SVT also condemned Kamikamica of helping to hand political power back to the Indo-Fijians. Kamikamica, on the other hand, played right into the hands of SVT nationalists when he made the strategic mistake of announcing that he would form a coalition government with the Indo-Fijians if he won the 1994 elections. He had promised to restore integrity and dignity to Fijian leadership.
Tora-Adi Kuini Join Fray
The already fragmented Fijian populace had the spectre of dealing with two other political entrants in the election-Apisai Tora and Adi Kuini Vuikaba-Speed, widow of the deposed premier Bavadra, and the remarried wife of the Australian political consultant Clive Speed. Tora, who has been a member of every political party in Fiji, this time formed his own All National Congress(ANC), which did not win a single seat in the 1992 election. He solicited votes on a platform of multi-racialism (yes!) and the exclusion of the Great Council of Chiefs from politics. At his political side was Adi Kuini. Earlier she had announced her retirement from active politics but she attempted a comeback as a candidate for the ANC. Another candidate for the ANC was David Pickering, who had defected from the GVP. At the end of the day the issue among the Fijians and Indo-Fijians revolved around leadership: did they want Rabuka over Kamikamica and Reddy over Chaudhry?
The election results were interesting. The NFP won an extra 6 seats to increase its MPs to 20. There was also an increase of 5% of Indo-Fijian vote for it. The FLP only managed to win 7 seats. The results suggested that Indo-Fijians preferred Reddy’s cautious and moderate approach to Chaudhry’s often confrontational approach. The Indo-Fijian voters were also not ready for Chaudhry’s politics of multi-racialism.
Among the General Voters, the GVP managed to retain the four seats with the fifth going to Pickering. Tora and Adi Kuini were comprehensively beaten at the polls.
The SVT and Rabuka managed to hold on to power by one seat, increasing their seats to 31. In terms of voting percentages, SVT’s vote actually dropped 4%. The SVT’s Deputy Prime Minister, Filipe Bole, lost his seat to FAP’s candidate Ratu Finau Mara in the Lau constituency, where his father is the hereditary chief of Lau.
The FAP only managed to win 14 % of the Fijian vote which translated into 5 constituencies (3 in Lau and 2 in Naitasiri). The SVT had the upper hand because of the wide gulf between urban and rural Fijians and the fact that rural Fijians were allocated more seats. The military and significant members of the Methodist Church bloc-voted for the SVT boosting its overall win. Kamikamica’s announcement that he would form a Coalition with Indo-Fijians also robbed him of crucial Fijian votes. Kamikamica lost his own seat.
Ratu Mara had no choice but to ask Rabuka and the SVT to form the next government. Rabuka had the support of 37 MPs (31 SVT, 4 GVP, one independent and Rotuma’s Manueli). He did not have to rely on Indo-Fijian MPs. His main critics now nested in the rival FAP political bure. The indigenous Fijian political elite had embarked on an uncertain journey of political rivalry in the future.
The only thing the 1994 election resolved was which Fijian was to become Prime Minister and the answer was Rabuka and not Kamikamica.
The irony is that Indo-Fijian political leaders had become power brokers in the face of Fijian disunity. The newly-elected Prime Minister Rabuka could not ignore their demands for constitutional change in the light of political and ‘kama sutra’ scandals hovering over his head. But he could find refuge in the constitutional process, and he was forced to initiate negotiations between Reddy and Chaudhry culminating in the setting up of the Constitutional Review Commission (The Reeves Commission). The recommendations of the Commission provided the basis on which the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee (JPSC) made its recommendations to Parliament.
The end result, as we know, was the new electoral system, accountability, and multi-party government concept in the 1997 Constitution of Fiji. Fijileaks: To be continued