For the second time in a week, Frank Bainimarama is spending the night in police custody – this time not with Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum and Dr Neil Sharma but with “Tuks” – his trusted surrogate son, the suspended Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho. The pair have been charged with abuse of office and will appear in court tomorrow.
It is a far cry from the best hotel suites that Bainimarama used to inhabit as Prime Minister. And we can only imagine Frank’s state of mind as he struggles to get to sleep knowing that his enemies are determined to make his life as uncomfortable as possible.
As Grubsheet has previously reported, the tactic of the Attorney General, Siromi Turaga, and his handpicked illegal Acting DPP, John Rabuku, is to throw everything including the kitchen sink at Bainimarama, Khaiyum and anyone associated with the previous government. Up to 30 charges are reported to be in the pipeline in the hope that some of them, at least, will stick.
The problem is that the unconstitutional appointment of John Rabuku as Acting DPP places a big question mark about whether anything he does has legal force. Some lawyers say it does, others say it doesn’t. We shall see. But the Coalition’s tactic is becoming increasingly obvious.
According to Coalition sources, the scattergun approach is designed to stitch up the leaders of the FijiFirst opposition so that it will be impossible for them to make a comeback. One way or another, one or more of these charges will stick and will put them behind bars, which will automatically disqualify them from contesting future elections.
With the leadership jailed and with no effective replacements – this theory goes – FijiFirst will be decimated whenever a poll is held. Yes, wiped out altogether. Well, that is the dream at least of Coalition hardliners.
The recent speculation of a snap election is based on FijiFirst being crippled and the People’s Alliance winning an absolute majority. PAP stalwarts make little secret of their desire to also wipe out the NFP by alienating it from its traditional base with the Coalition’s ethnically-biased policies. There’s a belief that the strong support in Nadroga for SODELPA could still keep it in the running but the dream is of the PAP becoming the natural party of government in Fiji.
All this, of course, is in the realms of wishful thinking as things stand but that is evidently the plan. And part of that plan is for Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to be safely sequestered behind bars. Of course, if these wishful thinkers don’t pull it off, things could be very different.
The one thing we can count on is that as he struggles to sleep in his police cell tonight, Frank Bainimarama will be seething with rage and plotting revenge. That revenge, when and if it comes, will be terrible. Which is why anyone with the national interest in mind should consider the folly of the extreme “winner takes all” attitude that has taken hold at the top of politics in Fiji.
If the Coalition doesn’t succeed in driving a stake through the hearts of Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, they, or their surrogates, will surely be back. That is the way of politics in any democracy. And when they do return, it will be payback time, and anyone associated with the Coalition will be pursued in precisely the same way this government is pursuing those associated with the last.
Is that good for democracy in Fiji? Revenge as the dominant sentiment in the political tug of war? Justice must, of course, be done. But those currently intent on revenge would do well to ponder what will happen when the blowtorch is inevitably turned on them. And one thing is certain. We can be sure that Frank will be whiling away the hours in his police cell dreaming of who will burn first if he ever gets hold of the blowtorch again.
UPDATE 1450 WEDNESDAY:
Click here for the CFL- Fiji Village report on Bainimarama and Qiliho being granted bail. And how the charges against them relate to the man in our subsequent story, Rusiate Tudravu.