World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Fiji critics talk of ‘constitutional coup’ by Bainimarama

VIDEO: Bainimarama talks policy to Al Jazeera as Fiji critics talk of ‘constitutional coup’

by Andrew Thomas | Suva
April 8, 2013

Journalist Andrew Thomas with Fiji regime Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Video: Al Jazeera English

Fijians are weighing up a controversial new draft constitution aimed at restoring democracy in the South Pacific nation for next year.

But there are concerns that the document could be used by the current military ruler Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to maintain his hold on power.

Critics say that what Bainimarama is doing amounts to a “constitutional coup”.

After his return to his Sydney base, Thomas commented on his Al Jazeera blog:

Last month, the country’s unelected military ruler scrapped a constitution, written by a respected independent expert, in favour of one drawn up by his government.

Many in Fiji and elsewhere fear the government-sanctioned charter will merely provide cover for ongoing autocratic rule.

Fiji’s so-far unelected prime minister, of course, denies this. When I met Commodore Frank Bainimarama last Thursday (making it two PMs in one week!), he told me he was committed to holding free and fair elections late next year.

On their own, though, elections don’t mean democracy. There has to be a level playing field going into them; the dice can’t be weighted in one candidate’s favour.

That’s what good constitutions ensure. They level playing fields and make sure the dice aren’t dodgy.

At the Sydney lunch, [Australian Prime Minister Julia] Gillard gave the stock response about Fiji, without referring directly to concerns over the latest incarnation of the constitution.

She said: “Commodore Bainimarama needs to be held to his promises and accountabilities about having those elections, and they need to be held on time and properly done.”

Few now doubt Bainimarama is indeed committed to the first part, that elections are held “on time”. But, without the second part as well, elections “properly done”, Fiji may be a democracy in name only.

Constitutional clauses can sometimes be dry, but they can also be crucial.

Fiji debates disputed draft constitution


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Binoy Kampmark: The Fall Of Tony Abbott

The question was one of timing. The Coalition had been registering losses in poll after poll. The Abbott style hardly improved after a spill was forced on the party. Despite claiming that he would be ushering in a spring clean, he continued bypassing ministers and MPs... More>>



Pacific.Scoop: Smaller Pacific States Call For Coal Moratorium

PNG Loop: Leaders of the Pacific Smaller Island States have called on all nations – especially the advanced economies in the region – to rise to the challenge of climate change. They want to steer the world on a path where climate change is no longer a threat to earth. More>>


Austria And Germany To Take In Thousands Of Refugees

UN hails decision by Austria and Germany to take in thousands of migrants and refugees at Hungary border More>>

On International Day, Ban Calls On People Everywhere To Act

On International Day, Ban calls on people everywhere to act charitably in the face of human suffering More>>

Peace Deal ‘first Step’ In Resolving South Sudan Crisis

Children at a protection of civilians site in Juba, South Sudan, run by the UN Mission, perform at a special cultural event in March 2015. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine More>>

Yemen: Killing Or Maiming An Average Of Eight Children A Day

Killing or maiming an average of eight children a day, ‘brutal’ Yemen conflict must end – UNICEF More>>

Changing Habits/behaviours Key To Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy can be caused by factors such as negative beliefs based on myths, misinformation. Fear of needles can be a factor for refusal. Photo: PAHO/WHO More>>

Burundi: Ban Condemns Assassination Of Senior Army Officer

Refugees from Burundi in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo: OCHA/Naomi Frerotte United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the assassination Burundi’s former Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Jean Bikomagu, who ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news