Friday, September 30, 2016

Fiji is not a democracy

The Fijian regime has just abused its Parliamentary majority to kick an opposition MP out of Parliament:

Fiji's parliament has voted out a third opposition MP, dismissing calls that a suspension until the end of the term is too harsh.

Sodelpa's Ratu Isoa Tikoca went before the Privileges Committee this week over his speech in July which government members branded as racist.

Ratu Isoa was found to have breached parliament's freedom of speech rules by his listing of Muslim officials serving in high offices.

You don't need to support Tikoca's speech to think that this is unacceptable and undemocratic. Whatever his views, he was elected by voters. The Fijian regime has effectively vetoed their decision - and in the process, denied those voters their voice in Parliament (while bolstering their own numbers, of course).

This isn't an isolated incident. The regime has indefinitely suspended two other opposition MPs on similar pretexts - in one case apparently because they responded in kind to government insults. The overall impression is of a regime intent on silencing the opposition and disenfranchising their voters. And that simply isn't democratic.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government is trying to mend fences with Fiji. It shouldn't be. While they've held elections, the regime's behaviour shows that they're a long way from democratic norms. Our sanctions should be reimposed until they start behaving properly.