|The General's Goose - three decades of Fiji "coup culture". And what now with the second |
post-coup election due this year?
REVIEW: By David Robie of Café Pacific
|Historian Dr Robbie Robertson ... challenges "misconceptions"|
about the Bainimarama government and previous coups, and asks
fundamental questions about Fiji's future.
When Commodore (now rear admiral retired and an elected prime minister) Voreqe Bainimarama staged Fiji’s fourth “coup to end all coups” on 5 December 2006, it was widely misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented by a legion of politicians, foreign affairs officials, journalists and even some historians.
A chorus of voices continually argued for the restoration of “democracy” – not only the flawed version of democracy that had persisted in various forms since independence from colonial Britain in 1970, but specifically the arguably illegal and unconstitutional government of merchant banker Laisenia Qarase that had been installed on the coattails of the third (attempted) coup in 2000.
Yet in spite of superficial appearances, Bainimarama’s 2006 coup contrasted sharply with its predecessors.
Bainimarama attempted to dodge the mistakes made by Sitiveni Rabuka after he carried out both of Fiji’s first two coups in 1987 while retaining the structures of power.
Instead, notes New Zealand historian Robbie Robertson who lived in Fiji for many years, Bainimarama “began to transform elements of Fiji: Taukei deference to tradition, the provision of golden eggs to sustain the old [chiefly] elite, the power enjoyed by the media and judiciary, rural neglect and infrastructural inertia” (p. 314). But that wasn’t all.