[Marxism] Fiji coup

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Dec 7 18:27:37 MST 2006


While the Australian and NZ governments are rather more reluctant to
militarily intervene in Fiji than they were in Tonga and the Solomons,
they are using other methods.  (The reason for the military reluctance,
especially in the NZ case, is that Fiji's army is relatively large and
experienced and NZ govts prefer to confront much smaller, unarmed
Pacific nations.)

Sanctions is quite an important one, however, especially given the
fragile nature of the Fiji economy.

I have thought about doing my bit to oppose the imperialist sanctions by
taking a holiday in Fiji.

Here in NZ, one of the worst MPs for advocating 'peaceful' imperialist
action against 'rogue' regimes is Green MP (and ex-Trotskyist) Keith
Locke.  I've known Keith since I was at high school and he was the
editor of a socialist paper, so it is personally quite sad to witness
his political degeneration.

Last night he was on TV disgracefully calling for the Fiji Rugby Sevens
side, which I think won the international sevens title last year, to be
banned from coming to NZ next year for the NZ leg of the international
sevens.

The NZ and Australian governments' interest in "democracy" in Fiji and
their hostility to the coup and the new "military dictator", Frank
Bainimarama, stands in stark contrast to their attitude to the feudal
dictator in Tonga, whose rule never bothered them at all.  In fact, they
have recently militarily intervened to put down riots by opponents of
the feudal monarch.

The "coup" in Fiji is an interesting sort of coup.  Bainimarama, the
coup leader, appears to have better politics than the government he has
ousted.  Bainimarama actually prevented a right-wing coup attempt in
2000 by George Speight, an indigenous Fijian linked to wealthy foreign
interests and hostile to the Indo-Fijian minority.

Bainimarama's demands on the government, leading up to his own coup on
Monday, were directed against the government basically pardoning Speight
and his right-wing allies; against corruption in government; and against
a land-ownership bill that would effectively prevent members of the
Indo-Fijian minority - who are mainly poor, landless labourers - from
ever owning land.

His coup was very soft as coups go.  On Friday, it was postponed because
he went to the rugby.  No-one has been killed and there is no curfew.
Qarase, the prime minister, has been sent off to some other island.  One
of Qarase's cabinet complained he was "roughed up" by soldiers, but it
hardly amounts to a Chile-style coup.

Bainimarama has made his doctor prime minister and called on people to
send in their CVs and apply for cabinet posts.  (I did briefly think of
applying myself!)

He sent the Australian guy who was head of the Fiji police force packing
back off to Oz.

So whatever sort of coup this is, it's not exactly a repressive
right-wing variety.

In any case, progressive-minded people in Australia and NZ should, in my
view, be opposing any attempts by our governments to isolate Fiji or
impose sanctions on the island.  And we should make known to Keith Locke
and the Greens that we are appalled by his and their position.

Phil  




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