Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fiji: The fix is in?

So, having effectively outlawed political parties (and condemned the three which did manage to jump through their hoops to legal limbo as their applications for registration are "considered"), Fiji's military regime now appears to be planning a snap election to legitimise their power:

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation says the country may have early elections after the regime initially scheduled them for September next year.

The FBC says this was hinted by the prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, in a speech at a dinner in Papua New Guinea.

It says according to the Commodore, this depends on how soon the new constitution is ready.

Exactly how this is going to work is unclear. The regime's new constitution uses a party-list proportional representation system for elections. But with no parties, and people effectively barred from forming them, such a system simply cannot function, and the elections cannot possibly be considered free and fair.

Meanwhile, the regime, having dumped its initial draft constitution because there were too many submissions, is simultaneously calling for more submissions on its new draft, while declaring it is not going to pay any attention to them anyway. According to the regime, any desired changes can be made after elections. Which misses the point that key parts of the constitution - notably those granting immunity to the coup's perpetrators and makign its decisions irrevocable - cannot be changed. And those parts are highly contentious.

Fiji needs an end to military rule. It needs elections. But those elections must be free and fair. The suspicion is that the military is not offering free elections, but a sham, rigged to lend a veneer of legitimacy to Bainimarama and his cronies.