Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fiji: cancelling democracy

So it's official: Fiji's military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama has cancelled the elections he had promised to hold by March, ending any pretence of a return to democracy. His reason? Well, it's not because Fiji's electoral officials aren't up to it - a visit from the Pacific Forum last week showed they would be able to run an election next year if there was the political will. And it's that which is lacking - the dictatorship simply doesn't want elections unless it can dictate the outcome and make sure that the "right" people win. So instead, they're going to illegally change the constitution to gerrymander the electoral system and get results they want. It's sickeningly undemocratic - but then, so was holding a military coup in the first place.

As for the wider issue of the Fijian electoral system, no, I don't like it - but this is not the way to go about reform. Instead, Fiji should hold elections, and leave that question in the hands of legitimate, democratically elected civilian politicians, rather than military thugs.