Fiji Fiasco: You Know What, That Sounds About Right

Read this CNN article about Bainimarama’s history of coups. Then, check out his Wikipedia entry.

Ok, fine, I’ll sum up. So in 2000, the military leader fought down a coup against Fiji nationalists who wanted no more of Indo-Fijian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. Bainimarama then ousted President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, which resulted in quelling the uprising. Bainimarama then chose a goverment lead by Laisenia Qarase, whom the voters subsequently confirmed (okay — the hero of the coup didn’t immediately indict the rebels, he offered them a pardon and later reneged).

But Qarase began supporting a bill that granted amnesty to the leaders of that coup six years ago. Upset, Bainimarama starting shouting that ugly c-word.

I should point out that, according to the article, the Fiji military is primarily comprised of native Fijians. So the guy, a native Fijian, see’s his fellow natives rebelling against an Indian, and his native Fijian President doing nothing about it, and decides to stop it himself. He places another native Fijian in power — from the same town as the last one. Ok, probably a power play, he saw a shot and took it.

What followed was an extremely tense and awkward relationship between Bainimarama and the Fiji government. To put it lightly, they hated him. He vehemently opposed the passing of the amnesty bill, probably because he had almost lost his life during the coup in 2000. And now, when the government is not backing down from their support of the bill to not only pardon, but support those involved in the previous coup, Bainimarama is taking matters into his own hands again.

People are still saying it’s another expression of the Indo-Fijian divide, but I’d have to disagree. Bainimarama is clearly a very powerful person with the unwavering backing of an entire army, but he hasn’t shown universal leniency toward fellow natives, simply to ones that may not share the same ideals. He fought against Fijians who were trying to overthrow an Indian government, and is still fighting against any clemency toward those involved, against a primarily native government. I think it’s a battle for power, between a military commander who’s seemingly outgrown his position and a government that’s preoccupied with getting rid of him.

I don’t approve of his methods — there is an amount of responsibility and lets-not-forget democracy that needs to be respected — but he doesn’t put up with shit, and he’s not afraid of doing something about it. I respect that. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m still pissed that he ruined my trip.

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One comment

  1. Stumbled upon your website yesterday. We have similar plans to travel to NZ for a year on working holiday visas. Our trip also takes us through Fiji for a few days – but we leave in January. Interested to see how your trip works out – especially since you have a month headstart!

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