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What To Do About Fiji Coup Leader?

  • January 27th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

fi-ji-coup.jpgTalk of suspending Fiji’s membership preceded today’s special summit of the South Pacific Forum, in Port Moresby, called after the regime there failed to follow up an undertaking to hold elections.

The military coup leader, Commodore JV (Frank) Bainimarama, has not gone to Port Moresby, saying he had to continue work on disaster relief, after recent floods.

After initially asking for the meeting not to be held, he’ll be represented by an “interim minister”.

The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has canceled two international visits while dealing with the economic crisis, but set the day aside to go to papua New Guinea for the Forum gathering, along with other leaders of the sixteen-nation organisation.

Commodore Bainimarama installed himself as an interim Prime Minister after seizing power in a coup d’etat on 5.12.06, declaring the armed forces needed to end official corruption.

In international talks involving the South Pacific Forum, European Union and other interests, the military government made a commitment to hold free elections by March this year; but since then has obtained a Supreme Court ruling that its coup was lawful, and has put off the elections.

The European Union has begun a process to withhold economic support for Fiji’s sugar industry, in line with policy linking standards of governance and development assistance- but it is maintaining humanitarian aid where needed.

Late last year the then EC Ambassador to Australia, Bruno Julien, said that on Fiji, Europe had decided to move in step with decisions of the South Pacific Forum, (see EUAustralia Online, 13.11.08, “EU-Australia upgrade joint activities”).

The military rulers have moved to avoid confrontation with critics, not only at the Forum at Port Moresby but in the mass media at home.

The Australia publisher of the Fiji Times newspaper, Rex Gardner, was expelled from the country today, the second expatriate publisher to be made to leave.

The newspaper had published a critical letter on last year’s decision by the Supreme Court; Mr Gardner was declared a prohibited immigrant.

Picture: JV Bainimarama