Thursday, March 06, 2014

Fiji: A small step towards democracy?

Fijian dictator Voreqe Bainimarama has stepped down as head of the military:

Fiji's military strongman Frank Bainimarama has named a fellow 2006 coup plotter as the next commander of the country's military forces.

Bainimarama, who says he is retiring from the Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) to run in democracy-restoring elections this year, named Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga to take over.

But while Bainimarama is out of the military, the military isn't out of Fiji. They still have over fifty officers embedded in the public service to ensure they retain control, as well as a constitutional clause authorising further coups whenever they feel like it. And on that front, giving command to one of their most thuggish senior officers, who ceremonially burned a draft constitution which would have properly restored civilian rule, is not a good sign.

Fiji has a long way to go before democracy is restored - not just elections, but prosecutions, and a complete culture change (and downsizing) of the military. And there's no sign at all of the latter happening.