Pacific Scoop

Tuilaepa Vs Bainimarama: Pacific Forum not your business!

Fiji's military leader Voreqe Bainimarama and Samoa's prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi have been exchanging blows across the Pacific. (Photo by PMC news desk.)

The latest exchange between Fiji’s military leader Voreqe Bainimarama and Samoa’s prime minister Tuilaepa has become akin to a sparring match with the latter referring to Bainimarama as a dictator and urging him to stay out of Pacific Forum business.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Tupuola Terry Tavita.

Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi believes its best that Fiji dictator Commodore Frank Bainimarama keeps quiet and learn from the valuable lessons he is imparting “free of charge”.

The Commodore this week lashed out at his “Samoan counterpart” as “desperate” to have the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat relocated from Suva to Apia.

“My counterpart?” said a bemused Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

“You know, calling the commodore a Prime Minister is like calling a skinny dog a vicious lion, a scrawny chicken a soaring eagle.”

Of the Forum Secretariat, the Prime Minister said; “Best he (Bainimarama) sticks to planting cassava and leave Forum issues to bonafide elected leaders.”

“He has neither say nor business with neither the Forum nor its secretariat.”

Fiji, three years after Commodore Frank Bainimarama usurped its elected government, was suspended by the Pacific Islands Forum February last year.

And what becomes of the Forum Secretariat will be the result of a collective decision by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said.

“Whether it gets relocated to Samoa, Papua (New Guinea), Tonga, Vanuatu or even Bikini Atoll is neither Bani’s nor those working at the Secretariat’s decision to make.

“And if it (Secretariat) does relocate, well Bani only has himself to blame for it. He is the root cause of all these problems.”

Tuilaepa maintains that the Secretariat cannot operate “under the thumb” of an unelected military regime.

“Especially a regime that has done away with the rule of law, democratic government, an independent judiciary and suppression of the media and freedom of speech. It’s against the exact fundamental principles the Forum was founded on.”

How the Commodore connected any possible relocation of the Forum Secretariat headquarters with Samoa bewilders the Prime Minister.

“It appears that he is scared that it’ll be relocated to Samoa? Well thank you very much Mr Bainimarama for your vote of confidence in us. But, frankly, we don’t need your endorsement.”

Click here to read the Fiji Sun’s response to Tuilaepa’s jab.

Tupuola Terry Tavita is editor of the Samoan government newspaper Savali.