Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Democracy returns to Fiji?

In December 2006 then-Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrew Fiji's elected government in a military coup. While Fiji officially returned to democracy in 2014 with new elections, post-coup decrees on political parties, public meetings, and freedom of expression kept the opposition out. But now, its over: Fiji went to the polls last week, and despite opposition candidates being arrested and a convenient election-night "anomaly" with the results, produced a hung Parliament. And now, after a few days, the party holding the balance of power - SODELPA, the successor to the government which was overthrown in 2006 - has made its decision, and there's the happy sight of every opposition political party uniting to throw out Bainimarama and the coup regime. After 16 years, Fiji will finally be getting a new Prime Minister: Sitiveni Rabuka. Yes, this guy:

On the morning of 14 May, around 10 am, a section of ten masked, armed soldiers entered the Fijian House of Representatives and subdued the national legislature, which had gathered there for its morning session. Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, dressed in civilian clothes, approached Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra from his position in the public gallery and ordered the members of parliament to leave the building. They did so without resisting. The coup was an apparent success and had been accomplished without loss of life.
There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, including seven years in which Rabuka was elected Prime Minister (under a stacked constitution he wrote, just like Bainimarama did), and apparently he now regrets his actions, but still: couldn't they find anyone better? Anyone not... tainted by dictatorship and authoritarianism?

Still, this is a moment of hope: the coup regime is out. Fiji once again has a chance to move back towards being a normal democracy. Hopefully the military won't fuck it up for them this time.