Micronesia: Fiji Falls To Ethnic Paranoia



The Pacific Islands

December 6, 2006: The commander of the armed forces appointed a new prime minister and police chief. Fijis neighbors, especially Australia and New Zealand, condemned the coup. The U.S. cut off military aid. Although the richest island economy in the central Pacific, Fiji is heavily dependent on tourism, which could be hurt if there is continued political unrest.

The coup in Fiji is the fourth in 19 years, and led by radicals among the native Fijians, who wish to prevent Indo Fijians from dominating the government, the way they have come to dominate the economy. Fiji is a small place, several islands in the Pacific, with a population of some 900,000, and armed forces of about 3,500 troops. Fiji has been independent since 1970, and had been a British colony since 1874 (when an endless series of civil wars led to British "peacekeepers" being called in.) Today, some 20-30 percent of Fijian troops are off on peacekeeping duty at any given time. Fijian soldiers are in great demand as peacekeepers, because they are well trained, disciplined and don't back down when threatened. The armed forces are staffed largely by native Fijians, as is the government in general. The better educated Indo-Fijians dominate in the commercial sector. Although more affluent, the Indo-Fijian population has been shrinking for the last few decades, because of fewer births, and migration (for better economic opportunities, or to get away from the unrest). Until the 1980s, the Indo-Fijians were actually a majority, much to the chagrin of the native Fijians. The three previous coups were all about insuring that native Fijians ran the government. The native Fijians were also resentful of Indo-Fijians controlling the economy. There is even a religious angle, as nearly all Indo-Fijians are Hindu, while most native Fijians are Christian. What is happening in Fiji is not unique to Fiji. The ethnic tension struggle is being played out in dozens of countries, and is the primary cause of war throughout the world, and throughout history.

December 5, 2006: The military coup finally happened. The army swarmed through the capital, occupying government buildings and erecting check points. The army is dominated by native Fijian radicals who had demanded that the government pass laws that guarantees that native Fijians would always control the government. The elected prime minister saw that as un-democratic and refused. Most Fijians appear to back the elected, and now ousted, prime minister.

December 1, 2006: In Fiji, the prime minister, and senior members of the government, went into hiding, as the deadline for meeting army commands passed without any army action. But the army commander still maintained his intention to take over if the government did not follow his orders.


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