Fiji’s military leaders have a plan for racial unity in the ethnically divided nation, but stymied elections are raising concerns of dictatorship.
The 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum, whose members include Australia and New Zealand, are giving Fiji until the end of April to set a date for elections, which they say must be held by the end of this year.
South Pacific leaders say if Fiji fails to comply, it will drop Fiji from its roster and suspend financial and technical assistance.
The military has ruled Fiji since its December 2006 coup, the fourth in more than 20 years.
Commodore Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, the coup leader, has advanced a vision of a more racially integrated nation, which is divided between native Fijians, and descendents of farm laborers from India imported by Britain during the colonial era.
One activist lauded the goal of integration, but said that Bainimarama’s steadfast refusal to hold elections indicated a potential for tyranny.
The government has been sidestepping the election issue in recent weeks, saying it is occupied with the aftermath of the heavy rains that flooded the nation in January.
“South Pacific’s Burma”
Inter Press Service, February 12, 2009