“My hand was forced,” says Commodore Bainimarama. “In November, when I was in New Zealand, three high commissioners and ambassadors went up to the [army] camp to convince my troops and senior officers to stop following my orders - they were inciting mutiny. If they were successful, we would be fighting one another in the camp. But my troops knew what action they must take. They warned me immediately.” - Interim Prime Minister of Fiji, Commander Frank Bainimarama. Image Credit: Dev Nadkarni
The Real Survivor Fiji – A Neighborly View
The United States, much like Fiji, has a lot of problems. Our nation states are suffering from a force of insurgency.
In the United States, the insurgency takes the form of twelve to twenty million people who are not here under a process of legal assimilation. This has the effect of hijacking the sense of fairplay and the dilution of the rule of law our country is known for. This problem also may result in our country becoming less safe from the threat of terrorism.
In Fiji, the insurgency takes a more sinister form in that the country has already lost its Government. The military hijacked any sense of fairplay and the rule of law through its “bloodless” coup when it ousted the freely elected democratic Government of the people. As for the threat of terrorism? ... the terrorists are already in charge!
In both cases, a minority illegally holds the culture and processes of the rule of law hostage to their selfish demands. The main difference here, however, the United States still has its Government (barely) whereas Fiji has lost any of its Governmental legitimacy through the demands of one headstrong military leader.
This view from the neighboring nation of New Zealand -
The Mapp Report: The Fijian Banana Republic
Friday, 15 June 2007, 5:04 pm - Press Release: New Zealand National Party
The coup in Fiji continues to cause problems, which is not surprising. Let's be clear; the current regime in Fiji is not a legitimate interim government, it is a military dictatorship.
And of course, they are acting just like military dictatorships always do. They rule by decree; they use fear and intimidation. The so called 'chats' with pesky journalists at the Queen Elizabeth barracks do not involve cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches; beatings and abuse are more the order of the day.
Military dictatorships hate hearing an opposing view to their own; that not everyone is actually keen on the end of democracy, freedom of speech and the ability to hold the government to account.
The New Zealand Parliament – on a fully bipartisan basis – is united on this issue. We want to see the end of Bainimarama's dictatorship, and the return to democracy. Because, as Winston Churchill said, "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." The Fijian dictatorship is certainly demonstrating the truth of that proposition.
They claim to have taken power to end corruption, rebuild the economy and protect the constitution. It really is a bizarre claim – the rule of the gun to protect constitutional government!
There does appear to be an element to all of this that we may be missing in New Zealand. The ostensible reasons for the coup simply do not stack up on any objective assessment. Normally when such coups take place, there is some desire on the part of the coup makers to ensure some level of normality is restored. But that is not happening in this case. People continue to be arrested and taken to Queen Elizabeth barracks.
The coup leaders seem quite enthusiastic to deliberately irritate the major countries in the region. They have been resistant to the efforts of fellow Pacific Island countries to defuse tension, and restore normality. There would seem to be other factors not readily apparent that are keeping tension at a high level.
But at some point Fiji will have to return to constitutional government, and this is clearly in our interests as well as Fiji's. New Zealand will always want a good relationship with Fiji, but it is not unconditional. The Fijian regime needs to understand New Zealand will not just look aside, irrespective of the actions of the coup leaders.
When they want something from New Zealand; be it aid, transit visas, support in the UN; then the rules of good governance are among the tests we should apply.
Right now Fiji is failing those tests. The Fijian interim government needs to start thinking about how to yet again re-establish itself within the Pacific family of nations.