Chief guest and President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote with Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and delegates at the 20th Attorney-General’s Conference at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa at Natadola on December 7, 2018. Photo: Waisea Nasokia
The 2018 General Election was free, fair and credible, says the Head of State President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote.
He reinforced this message during the 20th Attorney-General’s Conference currently underway at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa at Natadola.
His comment comes at an important juncture where both the main Opposition political parties – SODELPA and National Federation Party – have had much to say about their own interpretation of the elections’ results.
Both Opposition parties have said they plan to lodge a case at the Court of Disputed Returns on the outcome of 2018 General Election.
The President said: “Of course, the opening of the new session of Parliament followed the outcome of our parliamentary
elections, which we should all be proud to know were deemed free, fair and credible again this year by a multinational group.
“Our most recent election represents only the second genuine democratic election in Fijian history, because it is the 2013 Fijian Constitution that – for the first time – guarantees all Fijians one vote that equates to one value.
“The result of this election again represents an electoral referendum of our Constitution, the supreme law of our country that establishes the institutions of our democracy and institutes the mandates for the government of the day to advance the wellbeing of all Fijians, irrespective of any of the differences that – together – compose the rich fabric of our national life.”
Mr Konrote highlighted some major inroads Government made with a number of new legislations.
“It’s because of this Constitution that iTaukei landowning rights are no longer under threat,” he said.
“And it’s because of this Constitution that we have created a business and political ethos that is rid of the tumult and anxiety of the past, giving Fijians renewed confidence in our future.
“Through this year’s election, only the second since the Constitution came into force, this supreme law has been further cemented as the foundation of Fiji’s future.”
Since last year’s conference, many major laws have been passed by Parliament or implemented.
n the Accident Compensation Act 2017 commenced on 1 January of this year;
n the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2018; and
n the Fair Share of Mineral Royalties Act 2018.
Mr Konrote said: “Through these changes, thousands of ordinary Fijians are already seeing the benefits; the Accident Compensation Act has paid out $1.2 million to victims’ families, providing financial security in times of great personal loss and strife.
“Fijians with disabilities are protected more than ever, and empowered to live out their lives and participate in our economic development without fear of discrimination.
“And landowners are tapping into a guaranteed fair share of the lucrative mining industry, advancing our national economy and allowing more Fijians to tap into the potential their land holds,” he said.
“20 years ago, very few of us could have imagined that Fiji would have progressed to where we stand now; when this conference met for the first time, the implementation of our nation’s laws was weak, our infrastructure limited and our telecommunications were virtually non-existent outside of urban centres.
“Fiji struggled to keep pace with rapid developments among the more highly-developed international community, and our nascent legal system reflected that.
“I know not all of you were practising in the legal profession 20 years ago, some of you may have no memories of that time at all. But the Fiji of today is far cry from that time.
“The Fiji of today is no longer a nation of followers; when it comes to preparing for a more sustainable and legally equitable future, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with global powerhouses.
“Even more impressively, in many instances, we are leading the pack.”
He went on to highlight some of Fiji’s successes on the international arena. Fiji has assumed in recent years:
- From the presidencies of COP23 and the United Nations General Assembly;
- To the chairmanships of the G-77 plus China, World Bank Small States Forum and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation; and
- To the co-hosting of the first UN Ocean Conference and now the first Pacific Island country elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“Through all of this, it is undeniable that Fiji’s voice is being amplified louder and spread farther than at any point in our nation’s history,” President Konrote said.
And you, as members of the legal fraternity, are the standard-bearers of the new laws in these areas that help Fiji lead from the front, and prove that our talk is more than just talk, it is real and tangible action.”
Edited by Epineri Vula