Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fiji: Another tantrum

Yesterday the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional trade and political forum parallel, cancelled its planned leadership summit in Fiji over concerns about Fiji's military regime. According to the MSG's current chair, Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei, allowing Fiji to host the meeting and chair the organisation would be inconsistent with the organisation's democratic values.

Today, Fiji responded by expelling the Australian ambassador. It's a classic example of the regime's paranoia. Everything bad that happens to Fiji is not the result of the regime's own incompetence, but of Australian and New Zealand plotting. And this extends to being snubbed by their neighbours, who could not possibly have any commitment to democracy of their own, but must have been put up to it by others.

This sort of temper tantrum is not the way to rejoin the international community. But I don't think that's really the point. Instead, the regime is reinforcing the military's external enemy narrative in order to both justify their own existence and retain power. The same trick is used by tinpot dictators across the world to gain the acquiescence of their people; the questions is whether the people of Fiji will fall for it.