Fiji's military coup: Two years on

Few people give more mileage to anniversaries than journalists and bloggers. Fiji’s military coup led by Commodore Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama hit its two-year anniversary December 5, and bloggers around the region (and countless commenters to the blogosphere) have spent the past few days gathering thoughts and opinions on the country’s past, present and future.

Let’s begin with one of the few bloggers expressing qualified support for using the military regime to make necessary constitutional changes in Fiji.

“Two years down the road, Fiji is still moving towards democracy,” writes laminer_flow in Stuck in Fiji M.U.D. “Albeit, a work in progress for some. While democracy may be the ultimate objective, the debate in Fiji is how to get there and when.”

Sadly, there have been the usual chorus of displeasure, from the proponents of instant gratification democracy. Among those, is the Fiji Times Editor; whose Editorial of Dec. 5th 2008 had no new ideas to propose, just more of the same whining…

[Fiji Times Editor Netani] Rika, displaying his usual miscreance; downplayed the errors of the media and pointed fingers at the Interim Government's policies, like a person with an axe to grind. Not surprising for a person, awaiting the decision on contempt of court charges.

The title [We look forward to more bad news] of Fiji Sun's Editorial of Dec. 5th 2008, was a truculent at worst. At best, it was almost as if the publication was praying for a disaster and those opinions were almost equivalent to the ramblings of the Fiji Times editorial.
Both Editorials appear to echo the sentiments in several blogs, almost word for word.

One of the military regime's most vociferous critics, Soli Vakasama, says the country has this to show for the past two years of military rule:

No Elections! No Sugarcane Industry!!

200,000 people directly affected!!!

No money to pay landowners for lease of their land on the cane belt means mass eviction!!!

That elicited a comment from Iceman:

…Everybody knows that since the coup of December 2006, the economy has declined and will continue to do so until an democratically govenment is elected.. The thing is these fools at Nabua do not understand simple economics. Investors will only come in when there is a stable government not a militarily led one. More investors will lead to more job oppotunities will then more tax revenue for the government which in turn fund necessary infrastructue development, healthcare, education etc. The overall effect of it will trickle down to us ordinary people. To boast about the so called UN Mission bringing in the necessary revenue for the govenmrnt is nonsense… All of them should understand that they are suffocating the Fiji economy right now and the only way to stabilise the economy, cut the crap, surrender the arms, go to barracks, election asap and charge Bainimarama for treason….

Commenter PeacePipe wonders what the neighboring countries are doing to restore democracy in Fiji:

The second anniversary of the madman’s coup passed without any major incident. There was not even a whimper from PIF Aust and NZ to say what they will do about it. At least we have started a movement in Fiji to band together. I suggest we add our support to this movement and work together as a united force as Mick Beddoes said together we can be more effective and stronger. This is the time to move.

This brings up the point of whom will lead the Fiji once democracy is restored. Commenter Tim looks for the country's new leaders:

Who do you think Fiji’s future leaders might be? They sure as hell can’t be those whose names we see in very common use.
It needs a new generation as well as those that to date have completely spurned the cargo cultist, opportunist, ideological bullshit artists of its recent history.
The RFMF? Ratu Joni M maybe?
What of the Judiciary? its been so “@#$%” over by a few that have let their good intentions and egos get the better of their judgement. Probably their fear has played a big part too.
Politics? – Beddoes among others maybe.
Academics?. Most of the sensible ones left a long time ago and can only fire pot shots from abroad.
I suppose one good thing is that we’ve got the dysfunctional encircled by the borders we know as Fiji – except that the majority of FIjians have to suffer the buggers trying to rule them in between propping up their own self-interest.

Responding to a recent statement from the Attorney General who claimed Fiji would have elections when a fair electoral system is created, gdevreal had this to say in Fiji Board Exiles:

Funny haw all the same people who criticize the electoral system could never in a million years get elected under any democratic system.
All electoral systems are less than “truly democratic”. Once you introduce guns to the occasion, they are automatically un-democratic. There are also minority and group rights to be concerned with. Indians block vote. Is that democratic? How does it lead to good leadership? Who controls the selection of candidates?
Nations have Constitutions for a reason. It is an agreement between all parties. It can only be changed with a subsequent agreement between all parties, not just a bunch of idiots who come along and want to change things to suit their own personal and political objectives.
Voreqe's problem is he thinks the military stands above the People, above the democratic system. No matter who chooses, he thinks he has the right to “correct things”. Obviously he is a meglo-Idiot. The World can see this but they also can see that he bribes the people with guns, and it is far cheaper to support 4000 people with guns than 796,000 without guns. So now you have a ruling elite. Will they be brought down peacefully, or like the Tutsi'sor Serbs?

Raw Fiji News uses a purposely crude analogy to express his sentiment:

It’s been 730 days now since Fiji has been raped by this Frank the rapist and like those before him, Frank is beginning to realise that raping this particular “woman” is a no-win situation. Worse still, she has powers that will prevent Frank and those like him from ever achieving that elusive “coupster-orgasm” they chasing. Frank is also realising that once you force yourself onto her, you simply can’t end it with her. She will just lay there while Frank gets carried away with all his dirty game and fantasy until one day, he will die trying and she will consume Frank again when he is breathless and ten-foot under minus that “orgasm” he hoped he would get from her.
So, is it really worth it Frank? Two years of climbing with no luck mate? Tough luck bro!!!!

No Right Turn, a blogger from New Zealand sums up the past two years in Fiji — and sees some hope:

Two years ago today, Fiji's democratically elected government was overthrown by its own army in a military coup. And two years on, things have got even worse. The military regime, which in the usual authoritarian military style, sees criticism as rebellion, is waging a war on the media, deporting journalists and hauling editors before the courts on contempt charges. After getting a tame academic to redefine “media freedom” as “the freedom to print what the government tells them to”, they are now in the process of enacting Singapore-style media controls to prevent further criticism.
The military, having seized control, are now following the usual pattern of coups and are expanding their budget. Not that they ever keep to it anyway

But there is some hope. Today the SDL, United People's Party, National Federation party (basically, every significant party bar the Fijian Labour Party) and a host of unions and NGOs have united under the banner of the Movement for Democracy to push for a return to Parliamentary rule. After two years of sullen acquiescence, the military may finally face some serious internal opposition. Which can only be a good thing in the long term.


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