I had been meaning to post about this some time ago, with the threat of a coup developing over the past month.
However, just under 5 hours ago, the commander of the Fijian military overthrew the government, and has locked down the capital, Suva, and has attempted to censor the media.
The background: In 2000, after the attempted nationalist coup, Commodore Bainimarama took control of the nation, and put in power an interim government with the Fijian nationalist Qarase as Prime Minister. Qarase was subsequently elected in the next two elections, and was until 6pm Fiji time today the leader of Fiji.
However, the dispute arose when Qarase's government planned on pardoning the 2000 coup leaders, who are currently in internal exile within Fiji. Bainimarama refused to let the coup leaders back into Fijian society, because of the radical differences they would bring back into the nation.
Several days ago, the New Zealand Government brought both Qarase and Bainimarama to New Zealand for talks, which had looked promising. However, Bainimarama changed his story on arrival in Fiji.
The next day, several thousand Fijian soliders locked down the capital and took up many defensive positions in an "exercise" in a massive show of force, designed to show New Zealand and Australia that intervention would not be tolerated (both currently have troops in neighbouring Tonga after massive rioting last week there). Fiji's troops are of a high quality, and often do a sort of mercenary work for the UN (funds from UN peacekeeping is a major part of the Fiji economy). It is believed that Bainamarama has at least 4000, and probably between 5000 and 6000 troops completely loyal to him, and most with experience from the world's trouble spots (Bosnia etc).
The major opposition force to the Army was the Fijian Police Force, which had been the most powerful supporter of the Government. Two weeks ago, the Police had stopped several shipments of ammunition in Suva's port, until the Army forced their way in and took it to their main barracks. Three days ago, the Australian-born Police cheif returned to Australia, and the Fijian Police Force disappeared from the streets of Suva.
The PM is currently under house arrest, and a group of tribal and church leaders camped outside his house. The PM apparently has the support of the ethnic Fijians, while Indian Fijians (who own much of the businesses, and have been oppressed, the 2000 coup was against the Indian minority and the first-ever ethnic Indian PM in Fiji) are supporting Bainamarama.
More info and videos at http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/488120/914932
Coups like these are always worrying. Is there possible intervention of New Zealand, Australia or even the USA ahead?
Hmmm, i wonder if a coup occured in the US if they would cancel my leave...
Such instability in these places. It makes you wonder when it will spill into other countries.
There were riots that destroyed a significant part of Nuku'alofa in Tonga last week, but they were unrelated to events in Fiji. There's no instability in other Pacific nations due to the coup.
This is the fourth coup in 20 years for Fiji (not counting the armed uprising), and it's increasingly becoming a normalised part of Fijian politics.
There's no intervention in military terms planned, such as there is in Tonga, and neither New Zealand nor Australia has the military strength or political will to intervene. Even the US would have trouble with a military intervention.
However, on the political front, last night Helen Clark rolled out a set of economic sanctions, and I believe John Howard and probably the EU will do the same, which could cost Fiji up to $100 million in aid cuts, which will have a severe impact on the Fijian economy. This is roughly the same as the sanctions from the last coup.
If the United States wanted to intervene, it could - but it does not serve our interests I guess.
Australia and New Zealand could, since they are the regional powers, but they won't.
Zab;3408706If the United States wanted to intervene, it could - but it does not serve our interests I guess.
Yep no oil there.
The main cause of the problem was caused by Britain at the turn of the 20th century, bringing in Indian workers to work on the sugar plantations. Now they are roughly equal in number to the local people, who feel they are losing their country to these Indians. Hence the native people trying to ensure that government is run by native people only. Imagine if the Mexicans grew to be dominant in the US, would there be a backlash? Seems that the problems in Ceylon where caused by Empire too, we moved the Tamils in to work on the Tea plantations. Seems that where money is concerned, people are never considered, all these population migrations are never a recipe for stability.
That's the problem exactly. We intervene - that makes us "greedy imperialists". We don't intervene - that makes us "uncaring isolationists".
Last night, the Senate was shut down by Fijian troops, it had still been operating despite the coup.
Bainamarama replaced top ministers with military commanders, and put the rest up for expressions of interest.
Qarase was taken out of house arrest and sent to the island where the 2000 coup leaders are held.
Military intervention is not an option by anyone at this stage. It would most probably be an unneccesary bloodbath.
Hmm. This is developing interestingly. I don't know Bainamarama's history, should we be expecting anything bad in the near future?
MAWe intervene - that makes us "greedy imperialists".
Not if we actually improved the situation. There's a thought!