Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fiji: Holding democracy to ransom

Not content with expelling the Australian ambassador, Fijian dictator Voreqe Bainimarama is now threatening to cancel elections:

Bainimarama, who seized power in a coup in 2006, has reneged on earlier promises to restore democracy and last year, when he abrogated the constitution, said there would be no elections before 2014.

Now he is thinking of changing his mind again.

"In fact, I am all of a sudden thinking we might not be ready for 2014 for election if we don't get any assistance from Australia and New Zealand for instance," he told [Radio] Tarana.

"If we reach 2014 and we are not ready because of constant interfering, we are not going to give up our government to political parties...

Of course, New Zealand is already assisting with elections; according to MFAT we've provided $286,000 since the 2006 coup to do the groundwork for elections which have been repeatedly cancelled. And I'm sure that our chequebook is open if Bainimarama ever names an actual date. Its not the lack of New Zealand assistance which is stopping Fiji from having elections - its Bainimarama's refusal to yield power, to surrender control to a democratically elected and therefore legitimate government which might do things he doesn't like (like, say, cutting the military budget, or putting him and his cronies on trial for their treason).