Bloggers and forum posters are analyzing the decision of Fiji’s self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to miss a January 27 special Pacific Islands Forum meeting which had been called because the leader has refused to hold a once-promised election in March 2009.
Bainimarama, who came to power in a December 2006 coup, said it would be inappropriate for the head of a government to leave Fiji as the country is still recovering from week-long floods that killed an estimated 10 people, destroyed roads and bridges and created massive crop loss on the country’s two largest islands.
In a letter to Toke Talagi, Premier of Niue and Chairman of the Pacific Forum, Bainimarama asked to postpone the meeting.
The regional body comprising 16 countries had scheduled a special meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to discuss the possibility of ousting Fiji from the group because of the Bainimarama government’s refusal to hold an election, which it said it would not do until the country's constitution and race-based electoral system is reformed. In August, Bainimarama also refused to attend an Pacific Forum meeting in Niue because he had not been granted visas to travel through New Zealand for post-forum consultations.
The pro-government blog IG-Fiji felt the Prime Minister had no choice but to try to postpone this meeting:
The PM has announced that he is seeking a deferment of the meeting which is soon to be held. We applaud this move and agree that this is best way forward for Fiji. Had the PM decided to attend, it would have been like the man who's house is on fire and leaves it to go and play golf – and the PM has once again shown that he is for the people and will stay around to ensure that the flood stricken victims are tended to and not left to fend for themselves. We highly commend this action…
real jack, at the Fiji Board Exiles forum, feels that there is nothing presently for Fiji to say to the Pacific Forum.
the ultimatum made to us was to have elections by March 2009 – OR ELSE. that was what they did in Niue.
so all thats left for them to do is suspend Fiji – what else is there to be done ?
what is FB supposed to say to them in PNG ?
the reason why they want FB in PNG is so that they can get a way out of the mess they have put themselves into in lkaying down that ultimatum – they now realise that suspending Fiji will have broader implications for the region – and very significant implications too at that.
so they want FB to come there and they talk and its made to look as if FB has backed down and compromised by agreeing to another date (not March 2009) which they will then set as the next deadline for elections – so that they can save face.
Staying at Fiji Board Exiles, Alohabula1 wonders who will blink first: The government of Fiji or the Pacific Forum?
Hmmmm it puts an interesting spin on the situation as far as PR goes. FB asked for a postponement due to the flooding disaster, that is a fair enough request. Everything is pretty much upside down at the moment. Now if they suspend Fiji at this juncture, it would not exactly be construed as a humanitarian act on their part. They can speculate that he is trying to find a way out of it, BUT the only way they would know for sure is if they postponed the meeting, otherwise they are left holding the bag so to speak if they suspend Fiji. If they don't then no harm no foul. It will be interesting to see how it plays out..
To gdevreal, Bainimarama’s decision comes as no surprise.
If it was not one excuse it would have been another.
The guy is way, way out of his depth, and would only make a fool of himself.
A bit more than two weeks ago, Raw Fiji News predicted that Bainimarama would find an excuse to skip the meeting.
Frank is playing his smoke and mirrors game again and the Pacific Forum Leaders better accept that he will most likely side-step the meeting as we had reported earlier. He has nothing to gain but everything to lose if he does attend. He knows he will be bombardered with some razor sharp questions and knowing his grade 5 communication skills, we doubt his utterances will ever make any meaningful commitment towards an election. Frank is viewing the meeting as a place of torture for him where he will be stripped down to his coup-coup nuts by those fiery questions.
Until we see Frank at Moresby, only then will we give up our understanding that the guy will most likely ditch the Pacific Leaders Forum.