Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says he is concerned that many politicians will try and divide up our people by instilling them with fear and mistrust of their fellow Fijians during this year’s election.
Bainimarama says we have seen that many times in our history but we cannot tolerate that old, hateful style of politics any longer.
He says every Fijian should reject those politics of division, lies and animosity, by shunning any who attempt to pit Fijian against Fijian on the basis of religion, ethnicity, gender, province, socio‑economic status, or background.
Bainimarama says while these political tricks may be old, the methods by which they are spread are new.
He says today, they are being spread with a heightened level of animosity, hatred, and prejudice and also through social media.
The Prime Minister says since the last election, tens of thousands more Fijians have gone digital; they have more mobile devices and computers, more access to affordable data and internet services, and a larger presence on Facebook than ever before.
Bainimarama says when used responsibly, social media can be a powerful tool for good; it can create a more informed democracy and facilitate fruitful and meaningful discussions online.
But he says when used irresponsibly, it can be an equally powerful tool for evil.
Bainimarama says between now and election day, he urges all party leaders to hold social media behaviour to a higher standard.
He says as leaders, it is their duty to ensure their candidates, officials and supporters conduct themselves with the same dignity and decorum online as they expect them to in person.
The Prime Minister says by not openly condemning this hatred, they are complicit in it.
Bainimarama calls on the leaders to come together, irrespective of party, and root out these destructive acts, for the good of our nation.
The Prime Minister says it's not just the political leaders who can be an agent for change.
He encourages all Fijians to look at posts they read online with a critical eye, respect the privacy of their fellow citizens, and be cautious about unwittingly participating in dangerous group or mob mentality by sharing unverified rumours.
Bainimarama says trust should not be given blindly because while some may try to tear down our democracy by spreading lies and falsehoods.
He says by seeking the truth, they are all actively protecting everything Fiji has worked so hard to build.
He says the stakes of a civil and truthful campaign season are higher than this election alone.
Bainimarama says no leader, no candidate, no person should seek to undermine our economy, or tear at our social fabric, for their own short‑term political gain.
He says no matter how fierce the political debates may rage in the coming weeks, they must always remain true to the core values of the Fijian spirit: our unity, our commitment to the strength of Fijian families, our love of country, our love for our fellow Fijians and the future we share, united as one.
The Prime Minister says the most important aspect of any healthy democracy is the participation of its citizens. He says they are the fuel on which this machine of our democracy runs.
Bainimarama says people should educate themselves on candidates' positions, ask questions, seek the truth, look to and demand a secure, stable and prosperous future, and, most importantly of all, make plans to vote on November 14th.ADVERTISEMENT Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.