Saturday, February 14, 2009

TIMELINE FOR FIJI: How did the Fiji Taxi Drivers living in Aoteroa come to have so much say on Fiji Post-Coup issues??

It is fair to say that Fiji people living in Fiji & abroad seems to be engaging in a 'Virtual Staking of Claims' on who is really from Fiji & who is not. It does throw an element of confusion to those who may be following the Fiji saga.

'The Johnnies-come-lately' media who says they are

from Fiji, living abroad are adding fuel to the fire claiming they are the experts to Fiji saga & are just fuelling further what some taxi drivers who claims to be from Fiji living abroad esp in Aotearoa are saying to their passengers in taxis.

Fiji no doubt has suffered the onslaught of these Coup-Mania's whatever their intentions were. The bottom line there should never have been coup-de-tats.

Unfortunately, Fiji children born after 1987, eve of 1st coup & another Civilian Coup 2000 because the Gun-Man propped up a Civilian man & this same Gun-Man seized power in 2006 from an elected government thus making their little Fiji World into a 5th or 6th World Country far behind even a 3rd World one for that matter.

Below is a timeline on Fiji which may help those to understand the transition of power in the hey days till now. Added further in this blog are some interesting postings to a blog titled 'A legal perspectiveon Fiji' as posted in Stephen Franks' blog (Stephen Frank is a well known ex Politician in Aotearoa & is also a lawyer).

As written by BBC News

Timeline: Fiji

A chronology of key events

1643 - Dutch explorer Abel Tasman is the first European to visit the islands.

Tourism is a key earner of foreign exchange

1830s - Western Christian missionaries begin to arrive.

1840s-50s - Christian convert chief Cakobau gains control of most of western Fiji, while another Christian convert, Ma'afu from Tonga, controls the east.

1868 - Cakobau sells Suva - the current capital of Fiji - to an Australian company.
1871 - European settlers at Levuka island organize a national government and name Cakobau king of Fiji following local disorder.

British rule
1874 - Fiji becomes a British crown colony at the request of Cakobau and other chiefs.
1875-76 - Measles epidemic wipes out one-third of the Fijian population; British forces and Fijian chiefs suppress rebellion.

Former PM was dominant Pacific island statesman
Born in 1920

First post-independence prime minister
Forced to resign in 2000 coup
2004: Fiji's founding father dies
2004: In pictures - Farewell to 'Fiji's father'

1879-1916 - More than 60,000 indentured labourers brought in from the Indian subcontinent to work on sugar plantations.
1904 - Legislative Council, consisting of elected Europeans and nominated Fijians, set up to advise the British governor.

1916 - British colonial government in India stops the recruitment of indentured labourers.

1920 - All labour indenture agreements in Fiji end.
Fijians get the vote

1963 - Women and Fijians enfranchised; predominantly Fijian Alliance Party (AP) set up.

1970 - Fiji becomes independent with Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara of the AP as prime minister.

1985 - Timoci Bavadra sets up the Fiji Labour Party with trade union support.
Supremacist coups

1987 April - Indian-dominated coalition led by Bavadra wins general election, ending 17 years of rule by the AP and Prime Minister Mara.

1987 May - Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka seizes power in bloodless coup with the aim of making indigenous Fijians politically dominant.

Sitiveni Rabuka toppled Indian-dominated government
Prime minister from 1992
Lost 1999 elections to Mahendra Chaudhry
1999: Fijian prime minister ousted
1987 October - Rabuka stages a second coup, proclaims Fiji a republic and appoints Governor-General Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau president; Ganilau in turn appoints Ratu Mara prime minister; Fiji expelled from Commonwealth; Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand suspend aid.
1989 - Thousands of ethnic Indians flee Fiji.
1990 - New constitution enshrining political dominance for indigenous Fijians introduced.
1992 - Rabuka, of the Fijian Political Party (FPP), becomes prime minister following general election.
1994 - Great Council of Chiefs appoints Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara president in January following the death of Ganilau in the previous month; Rabuka and the FPP win general election.
1997 - Fiji re-admitted to the Commonwealth after it introduces a non-discriminatory constitution.
1999 - Mahendra Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian, becomes prime minister after the Fiji Labour Party emerges from the general election with enough seats to rule on its own.
Prime minister held hostage

2000 May - Bankrupt businessman George Speight and retired major Ilisoni Ligairi storm parliament, aiming to make indigenous Fijians the dominant political force. They take Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his cabinet hostage. Speight proclaims himself acting premier. President Mara sacks the Chaudhry government on the orders of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs.

2000 June - Commonwealth suspends Fiji.
2000 July - Chaudhry and other hostages released; Great Council of Chiefs appoints Ratu Josefa Iloilo - a former father-in-law of Speight's brother - president

2000 July - Speight and 369 of his supporters arrested.
2000 November - Eight soldiers are killed in a failed army mutiny.
2001 August - Elections to restore democracy; George Speight becomes MP in a new government.

2000 uprising: Soldiers struggle with rebel leader's supporters
2002: Fiji uncertainty after uprising
2000: In pictures - Fiji hostage drama
2001 September - Indigenous Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase sworn in, but doesn't offer cabinet posts to opposition Labour Party, in defiance of constitution.
2001 December - George Speight expelled from parliament for failing to attend sessions.
2001 December - Fiji readmitted to the Commonwealth.
2002 February - George Speight sentenced to death for treason. President Iloilo commutes his sentence to life imprisonment.
2002 November - Government announces radical privatisation plan designed to stave off collapse of vital sugar industry threatened by withdrawal of EU subsidies.
2003 July - Supreme Court rules that Laisenia Qarase must include ethnic-Indian members of the opposition Labour Party in his cabinet.
2004 April - Former leader Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, considered to be independent Fiji's founding father, dies aged 83.
2004 August - Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli found guilty of treason over his involvement in May 2000 coup attempt. He serves a few months of a four-year sentence.
2004 November - Labour Party declines cabinet seats in favour of opposition role.

Mahendra Chaudhry: His elected government was ousted in 2000
Fijian soldiers leave for peacekeeping duties in Iraq.
2005 July - Military chief warns that he will remove government if proposed amnesty for those involved in 2000 coup goes ahead.
2006 March - Great Council of Chiefs elects incumbent President Iloilo to a second, five-year term.
2006 May - Former PM Sitiveni Rabuka is charged with orchestrating a failed army mutiny in November 2000.
Ruling party leader and incumbent PM Laesenia Qarase narrowly wins elections and is sworn in for a second term.
Military coup

2006 October - November - Tensions rise between PM Laesenia Qarase and military chief Frank Bainimarama, who threatens to oust the government after it tries, and fails, to replace him. Qarase goes into hiding as the crisis escalates.
2006 December - Frank Bainimarama says in a televised address he has taken executive powers and dismissed PM Laisenia Qarase. Commonwealth suspends Fiji because of the coup.
2007 January - Bainimarama restores executive powers to President Iloilo and takes on the role of interim prime minister.
2007 February - Bainimarama announces plans to hold elections in 2010.
2007 April - Bainimarama sacks the Great Council of Chiefs and suspends all future meetings, after the chiefs refuse to endorse his government and his nomination for vice president.
2007 June - State of emergency lifted but reimposed in September. Lifted again in October.
2007 November - Bainimarama says police have foiled a plot to assassinate him.
2008 February - Bainimarama appoints himself as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC), a body he suspended after it failed to back his December 2006 coup.
2008 July - Bainimarama postpones elections promised for early 2009, on the grounds that electoral reforms could not be completed in time.
2008 August - South Pacific leaders warn Fiji that it faces suspension from their regional grouping if it fails to show progress towards holding elections.
2008 December - New Zealand and Fiji expel each other's top diplomats in row over Fiji's slow return to democracy.
The United Nations says it will work with the Commonwealth to seek an agreement on the timing of parliamentary elections in Fiji.
2009 January - Severe flooding caused by storms leaves at least 10 people dead and thousands in temporary shelters.

A legal perspective on Fiji


Stephen Franks blogs on a column by Richard Fowler, the President of the Wellington District Law Society, regarding Fiji. Fowler has just returned from there and quotes Fowler:
Yet I am afraid that nothing about the present Fijian situation as outlined to me was that simple - particularly for Rule of Law type issues. I am no apologist for the 2006 coup but there are certainly some very odd aspects to the situation that do not sit easily with the abovementioned ’simple’ analysis. There is even a ‘back to front’ quality to much of it. The best I can do is pose for you the questions that started worrying me:

If Commodore Bainimarama was the counter-coup hero who removed George Speight in 2000, installed Quarase as interim Prime Minister, and then went back to his barracks rather like a latter day Garibaldi, what caused him to re-emerge and, for that matter so different from the previous coups, at glacial speed?

Why does the Labour party representing over 40% of the population and supported by most of the Fijian Indians, the people most obviously and adversely disenfranchised in the previous coups of 1987 and 2000, give some support to the interim government and even for a period participated in its cabinet?

I have to say that every Fijian Indian taxi driver I have had in the last couple of months has been 100% supportive of the coup, and saying how the NZ Government does not understand the situation.

Fowler goes on:

Contrary to what was suggested concerning a pervasive military presence in the New Zealand newspapers recently, in the whole of the week I was in Suva I never caught sight of one soldier and further the interim government during that week lost a very public Court challenge to the legitimacy of some of its actions and did not reach for extra-legal remedy.
Indeed, the Fijian Government has lost a considerable number of cases.

Who could blame the Fiji Law Society for cutting the interim government some slack in the light of the latter’s avowed intent to achieve a fairer electoral system that is not racially slanted in lieu of holding an election now which would just have the effect of perpetuating the old one? At what point does the Fiji Law Society cease to do so - because sooner or later the Commodore has to demonstrate meaningful progress? And where would that leave the participation of the Fiji Law Society up to that point?

I held my peace and boarded the plane thankful that no law society in New Zealand has ever had to face the issues the Fiji Law Society is facing.

I am one that supports Fiji not having a race based constitution, that marginalises one particular race. But that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means, and the Commodore should have stood for election on the grounds of changing it, not done a coup.

However the coup is now a reality, and the end game is going back to democracy. And as I said, I have no problems with holding a referendum on a new constitution first, and then elections.
But the problem is the Commodore is unable or unwilling to give any sort of timetable, to which he will be accountable. The longer it goes on, the more you suspect he will never give up power.
The challlenge for the Commodore is to turn rhetoric into reality and actually take steps towards elections. If he does so, then he will no doubt find sanctions start to get lifted. But if he doesn’t produce a timetable, then people will assume it is all about retaining power, not about changing the constitution.

PhilBest Says: February 5th, 2009 at 10:45 am
“…..I am one that supports Fiji not having a race based constitution, that marginalises one particular race. But that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means, and the Commodore should have stood for election on the grounds of changing it, not done a coup…..”
Eh? Someone who wants to change an unjustly stacked election process should stand for election under that process, on a platform of changing it……?

DPF, that is the sort of comment we expect from “The Standard”, not from you.
[DPF: The Commodore is Fijian, not Indian. And the existing constitution while race based, is not hugely stacked to favour native Fijians. Also the new constitution has been a bit of an excuse by the Commodore - it wasn't mentioned much as a reason for the coup when it happened. It was more the pardoning of people who the Commodore didn't like. The Commodore also alleged great corrupton, but has been unable to prove much of it in court]

JC Says: February 5th, 2009 at 10:56 am
Finally some sense from NZ. You can’t have regular coups followed by a return to democracy going on forever, and you can’t change the coup mentality by repeating the process. Frank will have to create internal stability and change the institutions to get rid of race and privilege.. and that will take time.
Democracy it’s not, but it’s the next best thing, as the taxi drivers will tell you.
David Farrar Says: February 5th, 2009 at 1:14 pm
A census does not have to be done. The Commodore has alleged it is necessary. Even if you accept it is necessary, then he should have scheduled a date for it, a date for the referendum on a new constitution and a date for the election. Without a timetable to measure progress against, words are cheap.
Stuart Mackey Says: February 5th, 2009 at 7:14 pm

#quoting davidp from his ealier blog...
Why is there the NZ interest in Fijian affairs? They’re not a significant trading partner, there aren’t a hell of a lot of NZers living in Fiji, and we have no defence or other foreign policy interests in the country. No matter how unstable Fiji becomes, it does not threaten NZ. The only thing we share with Fiji is geography. So why the need to target Fiji, while ignoring similar or worse misdeeds in other countries around the world? Why did Helen Clark spend so much time and effort lecturing the Fijians and punishing them with sanctions while being happy to sign trade agreements with China, despite China’s much worse human rights record and complete lack of democracy.”

It has everything to do with geography and defence, one need only look at the fact that we had a pair of brigades stationed there in WW2 ( a not inconsiderable burden given the small size of our army and our Middle east efforts). We target Fiji for if we do not, someone else will and that may not be to our interest. As to other, less desirable and powerfull nations, those nations are not close to either Australia (one of our major trading and defence partners) and NZ’s shipping lanes. As to China, we have a trade deal with them to make money, pure and simple and given the size and nature of our economy we cannot afford not to.

quote from previous blogger....davidp
”To me, it looks like NZ is targeting Fiji because NZ confuses “geographical proximity” with “national interest”. And because they’re one of the few countries smaller than NZ, and so we think we can push them around.”

Geographic proximity and national interest are intimately linked, just ask Poland, France Britain, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Norway with reference to Germany. A favourable regime in Fiji is necessary to keep nations like China from expanding their influence and potentially containing that nations ability to project military force in our region. China ever basing submarines and strike aircraft in Fiji is not something we could long tolerate, as we are an island nation that is dependent on secure sea lanes and secure skies above them. Allowing other, potentially hostile nations, nations the influence we must have there would be like putting a gun to our own heads, such is the location of Fiji.

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