Forget Leeds Castle, how’s about Fiji?

Fiji, an country with a comparable community split to Northern Ireland, has completed its second election since a failed coup in 2000. Fijians have narrowly re-elected Laisenia Qarase, in a vote split on racial lines. Its constitution (Section 99) requires power-sharing. Any party with 10% of the membership of parliament (8 seats or more) has to be offered places in the cabinet. Places they can decline. Study visit anyone ;).

  • elfinto

    The Brits, up to their colonialist tricks again. Where do I sign up for the tour?

  • Rubicon

    FD – You may find a better example in Bougainville – in the same region. Relatively speaking it suffered 10 times the losses that NI did during its civil war with Papua New Guinea. Devolved government formed the basis of the peace settlement.

    The severity of the war caused dreadful divisions that set Bougainvillian against Bougainvillian and a large part of the islands still remain afraid to return – mainly because their homes and potential livelihoods have been destroyed.

    The debate there though is largely settled – both sides look to the future and can manage to put a much greater pain than our own aside to achieve that.

    Sometimes I wonder whether we just didn’t suffer enough!

  • Donnacha

    Fiji’s constitution might stipulate power-sharing, but its army certainly doesn’t. As the results came in, commentators in these parts were keeping one eye on the generals, who have a habit of overturning any elections they disagree with. So it’s kind of a veto thing….sound familiar?

  • Reader

    Donnacha: So it’s kind of a veto thing….sound familiar?
    Sort of like a self appointed army council ignoring election results when it suits them? Yep – sounds familiar. Have they tried to kill any MPs?

  • The Irish influence on the Fiji ethos is profound.
    Particular when the influence, was from a woman with morals.

  • Donnacha

    Reader, they ahven’t actually killed any MPs but in the last major coup (not the little regular monthly ones) they did hold the PM captive and threaten to execute him. Ah, the glory days of island democracy…Perhaps NI could set up a kind of exchange programme with Fiji. At least it would mean a few weeks sun every year for everyone.

  • abucs

    The Fijian army is almost completely native Fijian.

    Added to that, you have the complexity of many different regional native Fijian tribes where elders hold sway.

    The place seems to get on OK as long as the 40 something percent of the population who are of Indian descent don’t try to hold positions of power within the state. (mmmmm….)

    That’s a bit difficult because while the Fijians hold most of the land, the Indians hold most of the businesses.

    The main similarity to NI is that the past British Empire created both situations by importing people from one area to another.

    In Bougainville, the main disagreement is over the rich minerals deposits being mined by foreigners (Australians) and who gets what share
    of the royalties.

  • Rubicon

    Actually I think the mine is owned by Rio-Tinto (a British multi-national – in as far as such things have national identities).

    The mining certainly acted as a catalyst to the conflict and keeping it closed seems to be important to the peace. I think ALL of PNG is anti-Australian – not just Bougainville. Bougainville had its war with PNG (granted – with PNG having Australian assistance). The compromise that led to the current peace was a constitution that allows Bougainville self determination and the option to split from PNG over a phased timetable.

  • elfinto

    Imperialism stinks!!

  • abucs

    I guess there are a few fingers in the pie Rubicon.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    Just back form Fiji- a strange political system, but one which is trying to deal with a divided society. For example while a Fijian or Indo-Fijian can become prime minister, only a Fijian can become President (Elected not by the people but by the Council of Chiefs). I suppose that makes sense; anyone can have the most powerful position in the Government, but only a Fijian can be the figurehead of Fiji.

    With regards the Fijian Army, their position was kind of like that taken by the GRA at their recent conference- they were asking supporters/members to vote against the government.

    Its a pity that such a beautiful country could be so damaged by Imperialism.