Monday, December 05, 2016

Fiji: Ten years on

Ten years ago today, the Fijian military overthrew its elected government to establish itself as a dictatorship. And ten years later, it is still in charge. Oh, there are officially elections now, and Parliament has been "restored", but Fiji is not a democracy. Political competition was hobbled to ensure that the dictators won while soldiers "monitored" opposition meetings in the name of "national security". The opposition still faces persecution and arrest, and opposition MPs who actually oppose the government are thrown out of Parliament. Meanwhile the police and military torture with impunity while an amnesty decree has allowed the military to literally get away with murder.

The coup happened because Frank Bainimarama thought he knew better than the elected government how the country should be run. It was fundamentally illegitimate. Political legitimacy comes from the consent of the people, not from torture and guns.

As for a way forward, Bainimarama and his cronies need to stand trial, and the country's utterly pointless military needs to be disbanded. Until that happens, there will always be a weapon pointed at Fiji's democracy, and people will know they can get away with using it. This is about as likely as turkeys voting for christmas, but we can always hope...