• National Federation Party

11 November 2015: ABC Pacific Beat – Fiji opposition party disturbed at resignation of top cop

Listen here.

Transcript of interview. Please check against audio:

“NFP Leader: It didn’t have to be like that and I think what it does is it leaves a lot of questions with respect to the process and the transparency in the whole process and Bruce with your interview with him, Commissioner Groenewald has clearly said that obviously he didn’t like the interference of the military in the way he was running the Police Force — and that too is of serious concern and I think Government would have to do better, to explain clearly what happened because the public is entitled to know that, and understand why such an abrupt end to his term.Pacific Beat: The Fiji Government issued a press release saying that he was leaving for personal and family reasons.NFP Leader: That’s not what the Police Commissioner is saying to you Bruce so obviously there is more than what’s in the press release and I think its incumbent upon the Government to come out very clearly and explain to the People of this country why this very abrupt action by the Government and it also raises other questions in relation to the appointment of the Acting Commissioner of Police who is a senior military officer, when there are several senior police officers in the cadre who could have easily been appointed as Acting Commissioner of Police. So I think the Constitutional Commission will have to come out clearly and tell the people of this country whether proper processes are being followed in these constitutional appointments by an independent Commission.Pacific Beat: Do you have concerns about the appointment as Acting Police Commissioner, of a very senior military officer?NFP Leader: It’s an issue that needs to be looked at because I think the expectation in any situation like this would have been that somebody from the Police Force would be Acting. Obviously this appointment is not reflective of that and so questions will have to be asked about that as well.Pacific Beat: Is this purely an internal issue for Fiji to sort out, or is this something that say Aid partners like Australia and New Zealand should have some sort of role in?NFP Leader: The Opposition, and I have said this very clearly since the election last year that Fiji has a long way to go to bring about genuine democracy, to bring about genuine reforms in the independent institutions of the State which were destroyed during the military rule and all these actions and events do not give any confidence to us, at least here in Fiji and who are in Parliament, that the Government is adhering to its own rules and the Constitution and making decisions in a transparent, open and an accountable manner. Those principles are fundamental to any genuine democracy and I think the international community which has come on board to support Fiji after the general elections will definitely have to take note of these incidents and these decisions that are being taken by Government, and whether Government is genuinely moving towards achieving genuine democracy or is it just rhetoric that it puts out to the international community and to our development partners.Pacific Beat: The reason for Mr. Groenewald’s departure, that he was upset about military involvement in policing is being carried on the ABC in Australia, on Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand but so far at the time of this interview on Wednesday afternoon Fiji time, not a single Fiji media outlet has actually run that. They’re simply running the Government press statement.NFP Leader: Well Bruce, you know this very well that under the draconian media decree, the media is under strict control and obviously there are certain media organisations which would never run any story contrary to what the Government say’s and that is really an unfortunate part of our so-called democracy at the moment and so its not surprising that Fiji media has not covered any of those comments that has been made by the former Commissioner to Radio Australia.”


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