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December 4, 2006 7:02 PM   Subscribe

The coup d'état of Fiji continues today, having picked up again yesterday after letting the Friday deadline for the step down of PM Qarase pass and taking a couple days to enjoy the rugby and a weekend off. Unlike the violence generated largely by Native Fijian/Indo-Fijian tensions in the three previous coups, this latest act by Commodore Bainimarama appears bloodless thus far. It has again crippled tourism however, and, possibly more damaging, halted their trade in soldiers-for-hire.
posted by arruns (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Commodore Bainimarama

Someone has to say it: Talk about your cruel, cruel summer.

But seriously, as an ignorant myopic Murrican, I was unaware of the Fijian unrest, so thanks for the comprehensive education.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:16 PM on December 4, 2006


Phoning Fiji.

A disaster for everyone.

There is widespread talk that Bainimarama is not right in the head, which is why he doesn't have the whole army behind him.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:18 PM on December 4, 2006


Damn missed the Banimarama joke!
posted by Ironmouth at 9:01 PM on December 4, 2006


From here:

"More than 100 white-skinned individuals ended up with their skulls smashed and their bodies baked in an earth oven, including the Rev. Thomas Baker, who attempted to convert the Viti Levu highlanders in 1867. Instead of converting, they killed the reverend, tossed his body into an earth oven, and made a meal of him."

Oh if only more "indigenous peoples" had done this, beginning with the Goths.
posted by davy at 9:26 PM on December 4, 2006


which is why he doesn't have the whole army behind him.

Alas, it appears that enough of the army is behind him that mutiny is unlikely. It is indeed a strange coup. We're used to these things happening rapidly, by surprise, in the middle of the night. Turn on the news when you wake up and discover there's been a coup in Thailand. But this has been going on for weeks; the elected government and their police force have maintained the moral high ground throughout it all by not launching into their own violence. Strangely, Bainimarama went to the country's president this morning and effectively got "permission" to stage the coup.

Weird.
posted by Jimbob at 9:28 PM on December 4, 2006


Yo Jimbob, Iloilo has just made a statement that he does not support or condone the coup.

Jokes about Bainimarama aside, my information from emigres is that Fiji has been steadily going backwards since the first coup, as those educated people with the resources to do so leave. As the economy worsens, the indigenous Fijians blame the Indian community... repeat ad nauseous infinitum :(

Australia and NZ have both said we won't send troops.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:39 PM on December 4, 2006


Ain't no such thing as a good coup. I don't care if the civilian government is "corrupt" or not. Coups don't typically turn into nice free goverments, instead the Generals usually keep power and start turning the country into an autocracy with democratic window dressing.
posted by sotonohito at 9:45 PM on December 4, 2006


Oops. Hit "post" instead of "preview". I was going to add that I know nothing about the situation in Fiji, I just know that a coup is never a good thing.
posted by sotonohito at 9:46 PM on December 4, 2006


"I just know that a coup is never a good thing."

Oh, brother.
posted by davy at 9:52 PM on December 4, 2006


Ok, so an exception that proves the rule. But you know what I mean.

It seems like every time we get a bunch of military types saying "Hmmm, let's overthrow a democratically elected government" there's always somehone here on MeFi who goes off on how the coup is really a good thing because the government was corrupt.
posted by sotonohito at 10:03 PM on December 4, 2006


"I just know that a coup is never a good thing."

Oh, brother.


You really think history is that simple? You could have stopped all that would follow by removing that pathetic man and Nazi Germany would vanish in a puff of righteous progress?

i have another scenario - what if in his stead there was a leader who wasn't stupid and crazy enough to attack Russia? By most accounts, without that monumental error, the Allies would have had no chance.

So - no: if I could go back in time I'm not at all sure I'd assassinate that evil man, at least not by the late date of your wonderful coup. One of the few things worse than Nazi Germany would be a victorious Nazi Germany.

/derail, sorry.
posted by freebird at 10:25 PM on December 4, 2006


Why does Fiji even have an army? It seems the only thing it is used for is organizing coups.
posted by dydecker at 10:55 PM on December 4, 2006


Why does Fiji even have an army?

Well, I guess it's their right. There is a trend among the smaller Pacific states to rely on Australia and New Zealand for defense. But Fiji's probably big enough to try to look after itself; if the millitary were under the control of the government, that is.
posted by Jimbob at 11:10 PM on December 4, 2006


Australia and NZ have both said we won't send troops.
I spoke with a former NZ Army officer who said that there is such a high number of soldiers and former soldiers in the population with lots of combat experience (and on their home territory) that any attempt to intervene militarily would result in large loss of life on both sides.
Why does Fiji even have an army?
All U.N. Peacekeepers around the world get a flat income, the government gets men to fill the jobs, takes most of the money and gives the men enough to still live like kings in Fiji. As such there are a lot of people training for, or coming out of service. A readily trained military is just waiting around.
posted by arruns at 11:41 PM on December 4, 2006


Why does Fiji even have an army? Fiji needs a navy to patrol its waters and thus enforce fishing restrictions etc.

The army has always been dominated by indigenous Fijians and thus has been the ultimate guarantee of indigenous power in Fiji . So yes, one important function is indeed organising coups, which up until now have been justified by the ringleaders as attempts to ensure indigenous dominance over the Indian community.

Given that the native Fijians have a martial history going way back before the British took over, one answer is "because they really want one."
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:42 PM on December 4, 2006


Hah, overlapped with arruns, who is absolutely right on both counts.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:43 PM on December 4, 2006


The army has always been dominated by indigenous Fijians and thus has been the ultimate guarantee of indigenous power in Fiji.

Hang on. Qarase is a Fijian nationalist, and the army have been trying to get them to repeal legislation they've got planned to pardon the 2000 coup people as well as other pro-Fijian racist legislation. That's their demand, isn't it? That's the opposite of guaranteed indigenous power.
posted by dydecker at 1:13 AM on December 5, 2006


guaranteeing, I mean.

Can anyone point to a link explaining the background or giving a bit of analysis of what's happening?
posted by dydecker at 1:15 AM on December 5, 2006


a bit of background
posted by dydecker at 1:30 AM on December 5, 2006


That's their demand, isn't it? That's the opposite of guaranteed indigenous power.

Well, by my limited understanding, previous conflicts have revolved around Fijian-Indian tensions. This one is more one Fijian faction against another.
posted by Jimbob at 1:38 AM on December 5, 2006


I avoided Wikipedia but the writeup is actually good:
2005-2006 Fijian Politics
Fijian Military Unrest post 2000 coup
posted by arruns at 1:38 AM on December 5, 2006


You really think history is that simple? You could have stopped all that would follow by removing that pathetic man and Nazi Germany would vanish in a puff of righteous progress?

I dunno. I think a World War II that didn't involve a Final Solution would be an improvement over the real one. Of course one of the earlier plots would have had to succeed instead.

Also, there's every reason to believe that a coup would have ended the war better for Germany. On the flip side, that would have been worse for Europe, and the modern European Union might not have taken shape. The Cold War would have been markedly different, as well.

But in general, a coup is a subversion of constitutional government, and very problematic. A coup against a democratically-elected government is probably always a monstrous failure of politics. A coup fomented by an imperialist outside power is probably always an extension of the imperialist power's national interests. A coup against a despot, especially a murderous one, may on the other hand be comparatively morally clean.

In Fiji's case, I'm leaning toward "monstrous failure of politics".

Anyway, I'm worried about what it may mean that Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands have all experienced violent unrest. (East Timor is more of an "understandable" situation, but we can include it too.) I fear what is driving these incidents is a broad, common problem that will only worsen.
posted by dhartung at 2:20 AM on December 5, 2006


All I'm going to say is the USA has pretty much gotten its ass kicked recently in Iraq. And you know after you get your ass kicked you need to go and lay the hurt on someone just to get your pride back. Fiji is the annoying little 98 pound weakling that is perfect for restoration. I propose:
-Immediate withdrawl from Iraq
-Prompt asskicking democracy restoration mission in Fiji
-Rapid withdrawl and giant victory parade on Constiution avenue.

Who's with me?
posted by humanfont at 7:32 AM on December 5, 2006


I went to Fiji last year. I always knew there were racial tensions, and like most places I assumed those balanced out, but my short, inadequate time there gave me considerable sympathy for the Indian immigrants. The native Fijians really really hate them.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 8:26 AM on December 5, 2006


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