Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fiji: silencing Qarase

Last week, deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase finally returned to Fiji after his exile in the Lau Islands. His return was made difficult by the military, who reportedly ordered Air Fiji to refuse to fly him, and after his arrival his driver was illegally detained and reportedly beaten by the Army. However, Qarase has refused to be intimidated, and has declared that he intends to contest and win the next election. The military's reaction has been swift: they have reinstated the emergency decree (effectively a declaration of martial law), and will now arrest Qarase and other membders of his party and force them into exile again. And they will not allow Qarase or his party back into power. Freedom of speech? Freedom of movement? Free elections? Not, apparently, if you criticise Commodore Bainimarama or there's a chance he won't get his way.