As the two-year anniversary of Fiji's military takeover approaches, another international governing body has called the Pacific island nation to hold elections in 2009 as once promised.
This time a European Union delegation, led by German legislator Gabrielle Zimmer, met with leaders in Fiji and urged, “that parliamentary elections take place before the end of 2009 based on a political dialogue process involving all stakeholders and conducted without delay.”
Problems between the island nation and regional partners began when self-appointed Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama promised in 2007 that elections would be held in March 2009, a pledge he later back away from. Government officials have long claimed the country isn't ready for elections until it undergoes major changes in its race-based electoral laws.
The EU statement follows the Pacific Forum indication in August it would suspend Fiji from the organization if the government failed to schedule elections and return the country to Parliamentary democracy. Yet Bainimarama has held firm. In its most recent budget, the government allocated no extra monies for organizing an election, although funds were set aside for buying electronic equipment for voter registration.
Unlike the Pacific Forum's threats, the EU's statement could be especially damning to Fiji’s economy because the organization may withhold sugar subsidies for another year. ($50 million in subsidies were suspended for 2008 due to overthrowing the government of Laisenia Qarase.)
A discussion has broken out in the blogosphere over how exactly to initiate political change in Fiji. A commenter named Peace Pipe to a post in the “Soli Vakasama blog, follows up on the EU representative's argument that external organizations like the Pacific Forum and the British Commonwealth can only apply limited pressure to the government. Real change won’t take place in Fiji until “pressure from within” is also applied.
She is quite right there but I would like to know pressure in what form. A classic example when pressure was applied in a small way is the case of Vilise and what happened when anyone tries to demonstrate opposition to this regime. By the way whats become of our comrade in democracy. We must consider her comments on the issue of applying pressure and work out how are we to do just that to show we are keeping to our side of the bargain with the free world.
Enuf Dictatorship, another commenter, wonders whether silence is pressure enough:
I have said it already too, there is only so much the international body can do. The SILENCE is deafening and it does make them wonder about how STRONG we are. Thais are doing it (but we don’t want violence, that I understand), the Burmese monks did it, Pakis did it, etc etc..even the LADIES IN WHITE of Communist Cuba do it..every Sunday after church they march with a white gladioli in their hands to protest the Communist govt of Cuba who are holding their democracy fighters in jail (esp. their men).
So, again..pressure from within…we write, we blog now is time to be visible..on Sundays? hmmmmmm a thot…
Raw Fiji News argues that while women may become leaders of change in Fiji, the men have long lagged behind.
The problem with the Fijian attitude is that they are so full of ideas and opinions but lack the action required to effect the change they want. They rely too much on others to do the dirty job for them and they hide behind their false humility and Fiji time to cover-up their inaction.
We’ve observed with much sadness how the women folks in Fiji continue to push for democracy in peaceful but effective ways while the menfolks carry on with their grumblings over a bowl of grog leaving the poor women to go to war on their behalf (with the exception of the brave Vilisi, Taoi, Kinivuwai and only a handful of others).
So what’s wrong with these Fijian men? It seems they are all pussies meowing and scratching from the back. C’mon guys, let’s play our part and be real men for once. The ladies have done more than enough. It is now our turn to take Fiji out of the mess the menfolks have taken it into. Otherwise, we are not worth the air we breath and the soil we’re standing on!!
In the forum of Fiji Board Exiles, a decidedly less optimistic discussion of economic pressure from the EU, Australia and New Zealand takes place. The military government will get its money elsewhere.
From real jack:
the EU threat to shut down the funding is an old one – and its meaningless because there are other sources now available to Fiji – the regime had already made arrangements for that way back in 2007. the Eu stops the funding, Fiji gets it from elsewhere – no problem. thats already arranged.
this is why i have already posted that the EU can't stop whats happening. they won't.
our past is with the Aussies and Kiwi's – the here and now and the future is within the Sino – Indian geopolitical sphere. they are the coming powers of this region – and they represent the power of the future.
playing with the Aussies is playing small change – loose change. that play was done by 1987 – it went nowhere for us and resulted in nothing for us. ZERO.
what the Sino- Indian objectives mean for us is much more significant – transforming Fiji into the transhipment route into Latin America – and the financial inter connection point for those financial trades – with their money and muscle and shipping – thats where its going – the Chinese and the Indians already export the biggest number of products anywhere worldwide anytime, they will soon own the shipping lines shortly and then they will soon own the key transhipment ports on the various routes they move their products through – thats happening now.
the people who are looking at the Aussies are looking at micro regional plays – with the Chinese and the Indians the play is international and global – Aussie muscle doesn't even factor into that equation – and thats the difference – and its the bottom line.
those who are looking back to the Aussies are living in the past – that past is gone – its history – and its not coming back.