Sunday Feature: An Insider's View from the Outside

Nesian is a pseudonym for a moderate, Fiji-born, part-Fijian, Hindi-speaking, sky-blue passport-carrying, former Fiji-resident. An Insider's View From the Outside is the result of years spent thinking about all that has happened since the 2000 coup.  Photo.  Earth from space.Oakfieldmedia.com

Looking for a Prime Minister After the Speight Coup
Former development banker Laisenia Qarase was, to Bainimarama, the perfect candidate to turn his dream of a united Fiji into reality.

Ever since Independence, Fiji’s politicians had relied on the
tried-and-tested methods of racial politics. If you were Indian, you blamed the “lazy” Fijians. If you were Fijian, you criticised the“selfish” Indians. If you were kai-loma, well you tried to align yourself with the Fijians who owned all the land, or the Indians who had all the money.Otherwise, you put your head down and hoped no one would see you.

But the stalemate that followed initial discussions between George Speight’s group and the military was resolved when Qarase was appointed interim Prime Minister. Here was a Fijian without political connections, who was untainted by the nationalistic spores that seemed to have contaminated everyone else. And for Bainimarama, he was the better choice than the openly xenophobic alternative, Adi Litia Cakobau.

As campaigning began for new elections in 2001, Bainimarama sent out civil affairs teams from the military to the remotest parts of rural Fiji. They had one directive, to urge the people to vote for Laisenia Qarase and the new Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party.It was a decision Bainimarama would regret.

The army commander was full of optimism that Qarase would use his position as leader of the country to find, expose and bring tojustice all those who allegedly had a hand in the 2000 coup and mutinies at Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa and Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva.

In Bainimarama’s eyes, Qarase rewarded them instead: a posting as high commisioner here, ambassador there, an executive posting elsewhere. And whenever someone with links to the 2000 coup was brought to justice, Qarase’s government found imaginative legal methods to let them off.

They now found themselves at odds, drawn inexorably towards their December 2006 showdown. Bainimarama, feeling betrayed; and Qarase, doing all he could to satify, if not his nationalistic leanings, at least those of his political partners with their unique creed of patriotism.

Comments

Corruption Fighter said…
Nesian
Do you really think that Bainimarama lost faith in Qarase because he didn't pursue the people behind the Speight coup?

You mention Ambassadorial appointments for some of the suspects. In this you must include Isikia Savua. Why has Frank not pursued him, ask yourself that. It's because Frank was part of the Speight plot, but lost his nerve, as did Savua, who decided to sit back and let Speight and his thugs and clowns cause chaos that would give them an opportunity to takeover.

It's pretty obvious that Frank has never been concerned about the Speight plotters. After all, Inoke Kubuabola and Jim Ah Koy are part of his government and they were as involved as anybody in the plot before hand.

What really worried Frank was the mutiny of November 2000. He was the target then and there's no evidence that Qarase was involved in that. Bainimarama's only aim has been to seize power. His claims of a vision of a race free Fiji shouldn't fool anyone. The army is still almost entirely Fijian in its make-up and culture.
Anonymous said…
Bainimarama's choice of Qarase was not really so logical as Nesian suggests, given the disastrous record Qarase had clocked up first in FHO and then in the FDB, which he "managed" to near bankruptcy and huge losses due to unsecured loans.Nor was Adi Litia the only alternative. Logic, of course, was that the illegally ousted Labour government should have been reinstated. In the climate then prevailing, however, to reinstate the very unpopular Chaudhry would have been foolhardy. Had Chaudhry been prepared to acknowledge this, and magnanimously promptly stand aside in favour of his deputy, Tupeni Baba, that might have given Bainimarama an honourable way out. But Chaudhry, as we know, hung on tooth and claw instead, leaving Bainimarama an extremely difficult set of decisions. That he made the wrong one, he unfortunately was soon made to realise.These matters, and their portents, were discussed only months after the coup on http://www.justpacific.com/fiji/fijicoup2000/chaudhryfuture.html

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