Micronesia: Fiji Coup Drifts Into Fantasyland



The Pacific Islands

December 14, 2006: In Fiji, the ousted prime minister has called on people to passively resist the military government. The majority of Fijians back the elected officials who were ousted. Even the council of chiefs has come out against the coup. The military said it acted to deal with government corruption, but most Fijians would prefer to deal with that via the ballot box. Some of the native Fijians, members of a "warriors society" have threatened to kill the head of the military, commodore Bainimarama. In response, Bainimarama said he is prepared to keep the military in charge indefinitely. This will be difficult to carry out if popular opposition to the coup continues to grow. It got so bad that Bainimarama was forced to place want ads in the local papers, for people to take on senior government posts. Some 300 people responded to the ad, and Bainimarama is sifting through the applications, in an attempt to put together a new government. This coup may be a good thing, if it ends without casualties, because it marks a sharp decline in the power of the native Fijian groups that long believed they had a veto over democratically elected government.

December 13, 2006: Meanwhile, over in Tonga, police, with the assistance of Australian and New Zealand peacekeepers, have arrested over 700 people, in connection with the rioting and arson that destroyed most of the capital last month. The rioters were angry with the refusal of the king to allow more democracy.


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