Friday, February 15, 2013

Fiji: Dissolved

So, that's it then: last night, almost all of Fiji's political parties were dissolved and their assets will be forfeited to the state. Only two parties - the Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party - attempted to re-register under the draconian political parties decree. Another one, the SDL, wound itself up to avoid the forfeiture provision, and is planning to register under a new name at a later date. The rest have either wound themselves up, or had it done automatically.

Fiji's proposed new proportional representation system requires a diversity of parties to operate. Instead, it looks like there will be only three - or four if the regime launches its own political vehicle. And that assumes that those parties which have applied will be allowed to register, rather than being excluded (and their assets seized) by regime fiat.

With an absurdly high membership requirement and a penalty of five years imprisonment for belonging to an unregistered political party, establishing new parties is likely to be difficult or impossible. Meanwhile, even those which have tried to register have been effectively silenced: they are not allowed to operate, function, represent or hold themselves out to be a political party until finally registered - meaning an effective shutdown while they wait for the regime's decision. And with the regime supposedly about to launch its new constitution any day now, that could be crippling to the constitutional debate. But then, maybe that is exactly the point...