Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 19:51 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 19:51 | SYDNEY

The Fiji debate continues

6 May 2008 14:18

Guest blogger: Sanjay Ramesh, who teaches at the University of Technology, Sydney, is Senior Political Editor at the Sydney Fiji Times and Adjunct Fellow at the University of Fiji.

Jon Fraenkel raises some important issues about Fiji. Most important, perhaps, is his message that there could never be any justification for overthrowing an elected government. However, the latest coup in Fiji was different from the previous coups, in that it was based on ‘good governance’ and multi-ethnic collaboration. Nevertheless, a lack of success in the post-coup period on the part of the commander and the President to secure support from all sections of Fiji’s community to participate in the National Council for Building a Better Fiji and for electoral reforms highlight the difficulties behind building trust and consensus among diverse political parties and communal leaders. This leads to Fraenkel’s point whether those, like me, who are taking a 'soft' approach to the military coup in Fiji are aiding in legitimizing an unconstitutional act.

I would argue that democratic elections since independence have always produced racially polarized results, and the 2006 election was no exception. Holding yet another election in March 2009 will not, as Satish has observed, resolve the underlying problems, including ethnic tensions and extra-constitutional interventions by the army. These two issues have to be addressed or else Fiji risks continuing with the cycle of ethnic conflict and coups after the proposed 2009 elections.

So how can we make it work. I have in my earlier post proposed an agreement in principle among all political parties in Fiji on a Government of National Unity (GNU). Under this proposal, Fiji would go to the polls under the South Pacific Forum timetable and following the election, all political parties with more than 10 per cent of seats become part of a GNU. The President of Fiji should lead the GNU and the role of the GNU should be to finalise the ground rules for multiparty governance and electoral reform.