While the National Federation Party (NFP) rejects the 2013 Constitution that has been unilaterally foisted upon us, we accept that the best way forward for our country at this time is to seek a mandate from the people.
NFP has decided to participate in the 2014 Elections in that spirit. Our track record shows that we will bow to the will of the people as we have always done in the past.
We are outraged but undeterred by the shifting goalposts that this administration continues to throw our way because we believe that more than 550,000 registered voters have made clear that they want to choose who they should be governed by and we will respect their intentions.
NFP is currently in full political campaign mode, preparing for the upcoming elections.
All our candidates are out on the field talking and engaging with voters all over the country and we are very pleased and encouraged by the responses and openness of the people towards our Party.
We can only attribute the trust that voters are placing on us to the sterling grade of the multiracial composition of our candidates and new supporters who are attracted by the consistency, experience and philosophies of the NFP.
Our Party has always upheld the view that a peaceful and prosperous Fiji should be based on respect, dignity and harmony including the respect for the rule of law. The Party is not tainted by its support for coups or collusion with coup makers for any of the four military coups.
Four main themes
Our manifesto is spread out over four key Themes: To create more jobs; To build a caring society; To uphold just, fair and humane labour practices; and To strengthen public sector governance.
NFP is under no illusion that a robust economy must be the paramount priority that can in turn reinforce real change in the lives of the people of Fiji who have endured, and continue to bravely persist under the gravest of hardships.
To ease the years of hardship, we intend to reduce VAT from 15% to 10% immediately and work very hard with voters to build a robust economy.
Economic growth and investment can only be possible when we have political stability.
From there we can institute other measures to further ease the hardship of our people towards things such as our ailing healthcare system, the enhancement of education opportunities and pathways to provide more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities while ensuring that workers’ rights are firmly protected.
We will not be simply content with the Auditor General’s report that will supposedly be tabled in Parliament after elections but we will institute independent forensic audits of spending over the last seven or eight years so that the public knows and we know exactly what we are dealing with.
For our Taukei, within 100 days of being in Government, we intend to convene a national forum for traditional High Chiefs and Heads of Yavusa to enable our Taukei leaders to determine themselves the future of the Fijian Administration.
On Taukei issues, our record on the 1997 Constitution and the Party’s respect for indigenous issues is testament.
There are opinion polls being conducted in Fiji but what we and all our candidates believe that these polls may be out of step with reality. In the end, the voting results will show us all who had their finger on the pulse more realistically.
So far, the signs are not positive that the forthcoming general election will be free and fair but we have no choice but to comply because more than 500,000 Fijian citizens want to take this long-denied step towards democracy and vote.
To that end, NFP will do whatever it can to ensure that elections are free and fair.
Just last week, we were gravely outraged by a new decree where the interim administration saw it fit to disqualify two nominated party candidates for being away acquiring higher professional skills that would have served our country greatly through Parliament.
It is a matter of concern that a defendant in live proceedings, who happens to be the Accountant General as well General Secretary of a rival political party and Minister Responsible for Elections and the Electoral Decree, is allowed to change electoral rules by decree, weeks away from the elections.
It is also very disrespectful to the Court. We have expressed our concern that while the matter of the litigation was live before a Judge of the high court, the Chief Justice signed the amendment decree as Acting President of Fiji.
A third potential candidate of NFP, veteran Flying Fijian centre, Seru Rabeni, was keen to contest but was excluded by this latest Electoral Decree Amendment.
We will continue to urge voters not to vote for coup makers, to make fully informed decisions about who they think is worthy of their vote and to Trust NFP to bring the regressive impacts of coups on all our lives to an end.
Leba Seni Nabou is a candidate of the National Federation Party to contest in the general election due to be held on September 17, 2014. She is the Party’s Spokesperson for Information, Communications and Media.