Australian Academic Says Fiji is Not Ready for Democracy

By Cindy Trinh
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

SUVA, Fiji – Jonathan Fraenkel, an academic at the Australian National University, says that Fiji is not ready to return to a free democracy.

Fraenkel fears that Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, will break his promise to the people of Fiji.

The Commodore stated in a speech that by 2014 politicians should be ready to take over the running of the country.  Fiji hopes to achieve democracy, and has been in the process of returning to a democratic government.

During his visit to Kadavu, an island in Fiji, the Commodore reiterated that national elections will be held in 2014. He used the visit as an opportunity to explain the reasons for past military coups, specifically in 1987 and 2000.

He explained that the takeover of 1987 was carried out to further the development of Fiji. In the 2000 takeover, where a number of soldiers lost their lives, the Commodore assured that the military will “never forget their fellow comrades who died.”

The Commodore has appointed four military colonels to the positions of divisional Commissioners, in hopes for “rapid development in the country.”

The Commodore called upon the people of Kadavu to support the government’s plans. Chiefs on the island of Kadavu have expressed their support for the Commodore’s administration, and urges the Commodore to continue his term after 2014 if reforms in the government are completed by then.

But Fraenkel fears that the Commodore’s plan for politicians to take over the running of the country will not be totally free from military influence. Such influence has resulted in Fiji’s history of human rights violations and abuses.

Fraenkel says that the Commodore has a history of changing what he has vowed to do.

He states: “A trail of broken promises and if we believe what we’re hearing, the electoral democracy that is restored in Fiji will not be one that is free of military influence.”

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – Fiji not set to return to democracy, says academic – 28 January 2010

Islands Business – Fijian province wants Commodore Bainimarama leadership to go beyond 2014 – 26 January 2010

Pacific Islands News Association – Fijian province wants Commodore Bainimarama leadership to go beyond 2014 – 26 January 2010

Author: Impunity Watch Archive