April 23, 2009

UPDATE: Fiji Called a South Pacific 'Burma'

The deepening military control of the island of Fiji has prompted fears of dictatorship.

The New Zealand Herald reports that Commodore Frank Bainimarama, head of Fiji’s armed forces, was named Prime Minister just days after an April 9 court ruling declared that his government was illegal under the nation’s constitution.

Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup, and has been in charge ever since.

After the court ruling, Fiji’s president, who is considered a “puppet” by critics, suspended the constitution, had the judges fired, and gave Bainimarama a promotion to head of state.

Democratic elections are on hold, press freedom and dissent have been “crushed,” the country’s 800,000 inhabitants are facing international isolation and economic destitution.

The Solomon Star reports that a crisis in Fiji can easily expand to hurt other Pacific islands, many of which depend on Fiji as a center for trade, transportation and education services.

–Julia Hengst/Newsdesk.org

PREVIOUSLY ON NEWSDESK.ORG: “Fiji Elections Still in Doubt”

Sources:

“Fiji compared to Burma as junta tightens its grip”
The New Zealand Herald, April 14, 2009

“Fiji crisis requires urgent response”
The Solomon Star, April 21, 2009

“Fiji Heads Toward International Isolation as Democracy Fades”
Voice of America, April 16, 2009

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