Friday, December 01, 2006

Yet Another Coup in Fiji

It seems inevitable that today there will be another coup in Fiji, the fourth since 1987. The Fiji military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has given the government until noon today (Fiji time) to give in to his demands or he will seize control.

In an attempt to broker a solution, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters held a meeting in
Wellington on Wednesday between Fiji Prime Minsister Laisenia Qarase and Commodore Bainimarama. While nothing concrete came of that meeting, there seemed to be at least a pause which may have allowed for further diplomatic work.

That all changed last night. In a press conference which, reporters said, Commodore Bainimarama seemed to be making up policy on the spot, he said “It has been going on for so long, we have Christmas coming up...we need to get tourism back on track, and the sugar industry. If the government is not going to take on this clean-up campaign the military will do it for them.”

Enough is enough. The
Fiji military types have got to learn that there are consequences to defying democracy. If the coup goes ahead, Australia and New Zealand should immediately ban all commercial flights to and from Fiji, and add the country to a “do not travel” list. Only if the Fiji tourism industry collapses and exports are affected will the people demand an end to ongoing plots by tin-pot military types with delusions of importance.

Update 6:15 p.m.: The deadline passed and was extended—first for a rugby game, and then, apparently until Monday. Does anybody have any idea what's really happening there?

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