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Expats recruited by former government under review, Fiji PM says

Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says the coalition will look at the circumstances involving expatriate cases under the former government.

Fiji Minfo

Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says the coalition will look at the circumstances involving expatriate cases under the former government.

Expatriates, including New Zealanders, recruited by the former government and granted Fiji citizenship are now under review, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has announced.

He said the FijiFirst administration of Frank Bainimarama had “brought in a number of expatriates, which naturally raised concerns.

“They reversed localization and some of these expatriate recruits have obtained citizenship since their recruitment,” Rabuka told a media conference in Suva this week.

It is not clear how many New Zealanders were recruited or have Fiji citizenship.

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The new coalition government, composed of Rabuka’s Peoples Alliance party (PA), National Federation Party (NFP) and the Social Democratic Liberal Party (Sodelpa), secured 29 seats of the 55-member Parliament.

Following the general election on December 14, no party had the majority to rule on its own and Sodelpa opted to join the PA and NFP.

The move helped oust Bainimarama and ended his 16-year rule.

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The new MPs were sworn in on Christmas Eve and Rabuka wasted no time delivering his government’s plans for the first 100 days in office.

Expect policy changes to the economy, rule of law and human rights among other things, Rabuka said in his first address to the nation on December 29.

Rabuka assured Fijians that the coalition government would not be a one-man or two-man decision-making administration.

He promised to be inclusive and adopt a consultative approach to key decisions that affect the people of Fiji.

Rabuka said they would remove laws and decrees that undermined human rights, media freedom, freedom of association, individual and group rights of Fijians.

He said the Peoples Coalition government would re-establish the “cherished principle of localisation” introduced when Fiji became independent in 1970.

“This means that Fiji citizens will be appointed to government positions whenever possible and on the basis that they have the right qualifications,” Rabuka said.

“We will look carefully at the circumstances involved in those expat cases.”

Rabuka said the government was conducting itself “according to the provisions of the 2013 Constitution.

Fijians have been assured of a brighter future with prospects for all.

Peter Simpson/Getty Images

Fijians have been assured of a brighter future with prospects for all.

“Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, the key figure in the preparation of the 2013 Constitution, was driven by a sense that FijiFirst would rule our nation forever,” the new PM said.

Sayed-Khaiyum is being investigated for allegedly “inciting communal antagonism” following the election. A border alert for the former minister for economy was issued by the police on December 29.

“Change has arrived and some FijiFirst appointees remain in the civil service,” Rabuka said.

“Where do their loyalties lie? How many of them will follow Mr Bainimarama’s call for them to remain in place?”

Rabuka said they would now be looking at achieving the appropriate contextwithin the law, for the operations of the Constitutional Offices Commission, Public Service Commission, Judicial Service Commission and the appointment of permanent secretaries.

“We do not want to take the drastic step of terminating incumbents, we do that according to law,” Rabuka said.

“We note that the Bainimarama government appointed or reappointed many permanent secretaries not long before the election.”

Rabuka said that was “clearly inappropriate, disrespectful”, adding that those appointments should have been left to the new government.

“No ordinary government worker will lose his or her job. Those who will attract our scrutiny are the political appointees, especially those paid exorbitant salaries.”

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