#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2010-12-19

Friday, December 24, 2010

VB/GCC relationship fine beer rather than homebrew

By Jone Baledrokadroka
Two of the finest Aussie beers enjoyed by many are the old Victoria Bitter and the Great Carltons Cold. For the politically thirsty, hopefully, this Christmas a new premium VB /GCC concoction after four years in fermentation is soon to be announced.

This after a bad bout of our local rising - jack homebrew mixed with Vorege and our Ratus in the last hoorah.

So now, can this off-again-on-again relationship with the Great Council of Chiefs break the present political and economic gridlock created by Voreqe Bainimarama (VB) and his military regime? Yes, of course, such is Fijian politics!

Political theorist Max Weber’s analysis of legitimacy emphasizes that limits are built in each type of regime and that the transformation of regimes beyond them is a source of their deligitimation and their ultimate breakdown.

Four years after the military coup, the limitations of the military regime has become quite obvious by its unabashed machinations for local and international legitimacy. The regime now understands, it needs the two powerful indigenous Fijian institutions - the GCC and the Methodist Church - for support and legitimatizing of its rule to survive. Its Indo-Fijian main support has totally vanished.

International actors will follow suit once local democratic authentication by the GCC is restored. The GCC’s legitimate political imprimateur is also legally constitutional.

Should the GCC sit as mediator, what are the legitimate factors that may bestow local and international political legitimacy on the regime in a transition back to democracy?

Political scientists, Linz and Stepan (1996:88) in studying, the crisis, breakdown and restoration of democratic states lays out the conditions:

1)  The first would seem to be the availability of a leadership uncompromised by the loss of efficacy and legitimacy of the existing regime in crisis and committed to the creation of a new regime with new institutions to be legitimated by future democratic procedures.

2)  That leadership must be able to gain the acceptance of those who remained loyal to the existing regime as well as those who opted for disloyalty in crisis and therefore are potential supporters of a non-democratic regime.

3)  The leadership of the regime that has lost power, efficacy, effectiveness, and probably considerable legitimacy must be able to accept that fact and facilitate, rather than oppose the transfer of power.

4)  The willingness of the former leadership, with its commitment to certain policy goals, ideologies, and interests to subordinate the realization of these goals in order to save the substance of democracy. And finally, a general contributing condition.

5)  A certain level of indifference and passivity in the bulk of the population must exist during the final denouement of the crisis.

As with the fifth point, I believe the time is ripe in as far as the sullen people is concerned, given the economic mess the country is in.

The unique constellation of the five conditions may now be thrashed out by the GCC mediator(s). This can then be localized by other conditions to suit the Fiji situation without compromising the four critical conditions logic as laid out. Cheers all.

Editor's Note: And Coupfourpointfive salutes everyone who has contributed to trying find a way forward for Fiji, bitter and groggy though the debate has been at times.

To our readers in every corner of the world, from the Pacific to Asia, Africa, Europe and America - Wishing you all a safe Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WikiLeaks cable: 'Loopy Bainimarama in a hole and still digging'

THE MAN IN THE POINTY HAT: Fiji's 'loopy' leader.
Another cable about New Zealand's take on Fiji has been released by WikiLeaks and shows fears of bloodshed.

April 13, 2007

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission David J. Keegan, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) The GNZ worries that interim PM Bainimarama is increasingly fragile and his actions risk throwing the country into armed conflict. Heather Riddell, Director of the Pacific Division, calls Bainimarama's measures restricting the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) "loopy."

Bainimarama has now cut himself off from Fiji's traditional power base. This will circumscribe his support base and will add to perceptions that he is running a Fijian Indian agenda. Riddell observes it seems unlikely Bainimarama will be able to dig himself out of this hole, and he may become more desperate as a result.

2. (C) While the GCC is ridden with factions and some Fijians dislike it, most will be shocked by Bainimarama's actions. Riddell is particularly concerned that the measures may make an intra-military reaction more likely, and the result could be violent mutiny and other bloodshed.

3. (C) Comment. While we are not in a position to assess MFAT,s concern over possible mutiny and bloodshed, New Zealand,s analysis and predictions on Fiji have proven exceptionally reliable over the past few months.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Return of GCC could be the answer to Fiji's current difficulties

KEY PLAYER: Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu

By Jone Baledrokadroka

After all the WikiLeaks brouhaha involving US diplomatic cables from Australia and New Zealand on Fiji’s military regime, at the end of the day it will all boil down to a local solution.

That the meeting between the turaga Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama took place is the most significant local dialogue breakthrough for a nation in dire straits.

For any ruler, authoritarian or democratic, the ability to navigate among various political forces and to build coalitions is important for survival.

What is certain is that next year, for the military regime to stay on its present course limits its survival options in a crumbling economy. With all the fallout from the high echelons of the regime, this year, the interim PM is now surrounded with even more “yes” men unable to transmit bad news of impending economic disaster.  Weren’t we all duped by Governor of the Fiji Reserve Bank Sada Reddy’s soothing economic assertions, before he jumped ship?

Anyway, we understand, Bainimarama took on board the advice of the leader of the all important Matanitu Tovata confederacy and his once political antagonist, the former front bencher in the SDL government.

After the usual Fijian tauvu pleasantries, the political nut that was laid bare was the issue of the role of the Great Council of Chiefs in providing legitimacy to the regime, now that almost all Provinces seem to have acquiesced to the regime’s rule.

Fiji is fortunate in having the existence of the erstwhile GCC as a ready-made institution capable of organizing political rule and cracking hard local political nuts as it did in 1987 and 2000, albeit flawed to critics. In addition with the Methodist Church being granted its annual conference next year, Bainimarama’s two alleged primary source of political insecurity may well lend him a helping hand, vaka Viti style.

More importantly, the fact remains; the GCC is the constitutionally appointed body for selecting the President. International credibility in this high office may, therefore, be restored should the GCC be convened to do so.

With a legitimate President as guarantor, the interim PM can then present his road map to democracy plus an exit strategy for him and his regime to the GCC, for endorsement. The phase after can be to address policy caveats to the IG’s road map with political parties to solicit co-operation.

The quid pro quo may then be international Presidential legitimacy from regional stakeholders for the GCC choice versus the IG’s road map to democracy on a negotiated election date with the  military disengaging from government.

Even authoritarian rulers fear threats from important segments of society and seek co-operation by concessions in terms of sweetener policies. With the recent pay increases to the police and nurses that are conveniently pegged to the SDL’s Job Evaluation Exercise of 2003, the raise was obviously directed to both essential government services to garner crucial support despite the national public debt at  a bloated 57% GDP. Obviously, the nine other occupations minimum wages increases, as promised, was not national priority for the IG and has been further postponed till May next year - if ever.

Meanwhile, Bainimarama’s once loyal lieutenants Brigadier Pita Driti and Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara’s decommissioning letters from the Minister of Defence Joketani Cokanasiga lays on the interim President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau’s desk waiting his signature, sealing their fate.

Without a case to answer, the Minister of Defence is on orders to end both officers’ military careers for being threats to national security.

Ratu Epeli as Commander in Chief of the military is not buying the set up as his predecessor did. He is between a rock and a hard place and diffusing this impasse, in which he has the biggest personal stake, is a tad more complicated.

Convening the GCC may save face for all and may well be the light at the end of the tunnel for what is surely shaping to be another rut of a new year.

Outrage at illegal police commissioner's decision to take wife on trip

Rank and file officers say they have again exposed the illegal police commissioner, Ioane Naivalurua, for misuse of taxpayer's money.

Photographs from them show Naivalurua on tour last week to the Northern region accompanied by four senior officers - and his wife - and she taking part in meetings and sitting down to a large meal.

Intel Source says the trip is another sign of corrupt behaviour by Naivalurua and reminds the public that it comes despite the fact the police budget is again six million dollars over budget.

Outraged rank and file officer say the wife sat in all police briefings along with the senior officers from the police/prisons department, and the region police commander.
Quote: "Amazing to note that a civilian is allowed to be "sitting" in the room when national security is discussed. Wonder how the senior police officers feel - garlanding the CP's wife and following her around like dogs?"
The source adds: "Word on the ground is, and we were first to expose this to the world, is that Mrs Commissioner has a pot plant business and all police departments are being filled with them and that it is now going to the northern region!"
Intel Source refers to a Fiji Times story on Saturday where Naivalurua urges officers to stop the backstabbing. Intel says the call for virtue is aimed at hiding the illegal police chief's own corruption rather than improving the force. Quote: "It is to hide this type of corruption where his family rides and does business exploration and expansion on tax payer's monies.

"The commissioner is becoming too powerful holding two positions and is continuing to exploit the Fiji Police and its huge budget for his own personal and prison expansions.

"We police officers want to ask the Minister for Anti-Corruption and the Prime Minister - where is justice in what you preach that your goon is  doing daylight corruption and you sit enjoying the pecks in your office? When we are constantly being dictator-ed by a prison officer who the commissioner has posted in Fiji Police  and has made a mockery of the system?"

Pictures: Naivalurua's wife tags along with him, sitting in on meetings and meals. Earlier, it was revealed her pot plant business has expanded thanks to the connections and that the plants are now in all of the police offices.

Monday, December 20, 2010

WikiLeaks: Aust diplomat went behind Rudd's back

By Philip Dorling, Sunday Age 
December 19, 2010
AUSTRALIA'S hardline policies are driving Fiji's economy towards collapse while failing in their objective of bringing an end to the country's military rule, according to leaked US diplomatic reports.

The reports reveal that Australian policymakers and diplomats have been ''deeply frustrated'' with the lack of success of Australia's efforts to isolate the regime controlled by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, but see no viable policy alternatives.

They also reveal that former parliamentary secretary of Pacific island affairs Duncan Kerr (pictured above) last year broke ranks with the then Rudd government and privately sought to encourage the US towards diplomatic re-engagement with Suva - despite the abrogation of Fiji's constitution and Commodore Bainimarama's decision to defer elections until 2014.

Mr Kerr, who has extensive experience of South Pacific politics, believed ''Bainimarama cannot give up power as he would end up at the mercy of his enemies, and suggested that the international community should find a safe way for him to step down … or we'll have to do business with him''.

Mr Kerr was described as being pessimistic about Fiji, highlighting the severe deterioration in its political, economic, and social conditions, and the potential costs for Australia in the event of economic collapse.

''[Mr Kerr] said, 'We've made a cabinet-level decision that we don't want to see Fiji move to a social and economic collapse,' '' the embassy reported to the State Department in Washington.
''Calling it the worst possible outcome, he said that Australia would be responsible for picking up a failed state, at a cost much higher than the [Australian government's] intervention in the Solomon Islands, while seeing Australia's progress in strengthening weak Pacific Island nations undermined by Fiji's collapse.''

He said Fiji verged on ''economic disaster'' and Australia would support intervention by international financial institutions. He expressed concern that after Fiji had been expelled from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth, Australia would have exhausted its diplomatic arsenal with no clear next step.

But he said the ''diplomatic momentum and effort invested in punishing Fiji is difficult to stop, and a decision to change course must ultimately come from Prime Minister Rudd''.

Mr Kerr encouraged the US to explore new approaches to Fiji, and ''stressing that he was speaking personally, Kerr said that it may be useful for the US to ask us the obvious questions on what happens if and when Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth without showing any moderation in the regime's behaviour''.

The embassy said Mr Kerr's approach was ''an attempt to spur re-evaluation'' of policy towards Fiji while the Australian government was on ''cruise control toward increasing disengagement with Fiji, without achieving any desired effect''.

But his attempt to stimulate new thinking was undercut by senior Australian diplomats who reaffirmed the government's hardline policy of isolating the Fijian regime.

In September last year, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade assistant secretary Geoff Tooth told US diplomats that Fiji had enough foreign currency reserves to last another 12 to 18 months before it faced a balance of payments crisis and ''the inevitable fall''.

A year later Australia's policy of seeking to diplomatically isolate Fiji is unchanged but has come under more pressure as China has stepped up its economic and political ties with Fiji. The US has also moved to rebuild diplomatic contacts in Suva.

More WikiLeaks revelations: NZ pessimistic on Fiji

Diplomat:"The questions is whether both sides, but particularly Qarase, are sufficiently astute, adroit, and determined to bridge the divide between the two sides"

November 29, 2006
GNZ says Fiji talks constructive but is taking no chances
source:Embassy Wellington
destination:VZCZCXRO1665 OO RUEHMJ RUEHPB DE RUEHWL #0943/01 3330714
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2016
Classified By: DCM David J. Keegan. Reasons: E.O. 12958, 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Fiji Prime Minister Qarase and Commodore Bainimarama today met for two and a quarter hours at Government House in Wellington. New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) characterized the meeting as a "considered and serious discussion" of Bainimarama's nine demands, with substantial progress made on each issue discussed. The most difficult issue was Fiji's domestic legislation. Qarase's position that due process and constitutionality be followed clashed with Bainimarama's demands. While the meeting was on
the "upper end" of GNZ expectations going into the meeting, MFAT remains uncertain about any real outcomes. Deputy Secretary Alan Williams, who participated in the meeting, said that Bainimarama privately indicated he would delay any actions until at least mid-day on December 4 to give Qarase time to show "signs of earnest movement". The challenge remains for Qarase to find an adroit way to satisfy the military without exceeding what his domestic political base will tolerate. PM Qarase departed New Zealand at 3 p.m. on a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane. Bainimarama was scheduled to depart at 6:05 on an Air New Zealand flight.

2. (C) MFAT at this stage is making no assumptions that the meeting will alter the Commodore's plans for a December 4 coup, and will be working to encourage both sides to show continued flexibility as PM Qarase and Commodore Bainimarama return to Suva. In the meantime, MFAT is proceeding to plan for all contingencies, and has authorized departure for any NZ High Commission dependents who wish to leave Fiji. End summary.

3. (C) Today, Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase met with commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Frank Bainimarama at Government House. The meeting resulted from the efforts of New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Foreign Minister Winston Peters to advert a coup in Fiji (reftel). The talks lasted about two and a quarter hours, after which Bainimarama left to catch his commercial flight back to Suva via Auckland. PM Qarase left for Fiji via a Royal NZ Air Force plane.

4. (U) In a press release he read to the media a few hours after the meeting, FM Peters said that the talks had been "constructive" with a "positive character." He added that New Zealand hosted the meeting because it recognizes "that resolving the current situation in Fiji is fundamentally important to its future, and to the future of the wider Pacific."

5. (C) MFAT Deputy Secretary Alan Williams was the fourth participant in the talks. He told the DCM after Qarase and Bainimarama had departed that the meeting saw "a really good substantive, detailed, and serious discussion focused on the nine Fijian military demands" -- once the ice was broken. He noted that this had been the first conversation between the two in nine months, a painful reminder of the depth of their antagonism. In the days prior to the meeting, both Foreign Minister Peters and Williams had engaged both leaders in an intensive series of preparatory discussions by telephone. New Zealand's first objective in the meeting was to avoid giving Bainimarama any pretext for walking out in the wake of his threat the day before to the media to make this a five-minute meeting. Once the meeting shifted to a substantive discussion, PM Qarase showed flexibility, while insisting on due process and constitutionality. Bainimarama was hard-nosed, but substantial progress was made on each of the issues discussed.

6. (C) The most difficult issue was FijiQs domestic legislation, specifically two laws increasing the control by indigenous Fijians, in one case over foreshore areas (the "qoliqoli" bill), and in another over native land titles. Both laws confront the complex interplay of private and communal ownership in Fijian law. Bainimarama wants both bills to be struck down. Qarase has agreed to accelerate a constitutional review of this legislation, and New Zealand has promised to assist.
WELLINGTON 00000943 002 OF 002

7. (C) As the meeting concluded and both leaders prepared to depart, MFAT arranged for Bainimarama to avoid the media as he boarded his plane in Wellington and then transferred to a Fiji-bound flight in Auckland. The objective was to give Qarase sufficient space to shape the public perception of the meeting and signal that he is prepared to reach out to the military, the media, and civil society in ways that will give Bainimarama reason to conclude that further steps toward a coup are not warranted.

8. (C) Williams said that he had an extensive conversation with Bainimarama as the two left the meeting and proceeded to the airport for Bainimarama's flight. The Commodore remains heavily skeptical of the Fijian government, but said that he is prepared to test the government by waiting until mid-day on December 4 before deciding whether to proceed with a threatened coup. He said that he is looking for "signs of earnest movement." The question, Williams suggested, is whether both sides, but particularly Qarase, are sufficiently astute, adroit, and determined to bridge the divide between the two sides. Recognizing that many of the issues raised by Bainimarama are valid, Williams says he wonders whether the PM can open a public dialogue that deals with legal issues and the aftermath of the 2000 coup in ways that persuade many in the military to step back. Williams confessed he is "less than overconfident" about whether a coup can be avoided. 

9. (C) Other MFAT staff commented separately to Emboffs that it was not an easy meeting, but that outcomes were at the "upper end of (our) expectations." MFAT is uncertain about whether the meeting will really achieve anything or how either party will characterize their exchange. GNZ does not intend to speak publicly about the substance of the meeting, leaving that to Qarase and Bainimarama. In the meantime, Foreign Minister Peters has made it clear to both that he is prepared to reengage if there is space to do so. Tomorrow, New Zealand will be
talking to Qarase to urge him to move quickly to show that he is using the window before December 4 to render the question of a coup moot. But MFAT officials are planning for all contingencies, and MFAT Consular Affairs informed post that it has authorized evacuation of any NZ High Commission dependents who wish to leave Fiji. 

10. (C) Flying to Auckland en route to Suva for a previously-scheduled TDY just as the talks were taking place, a staff member from our Defense Attachi's Office sat next to New Zealand Defence Minister Phil Goff. Goff was upbeat about the talks, but said he would not be surprised if they failed. He said that if a coup did take place, it would most likely be confined to Suva -- adding that its scope would depend on the mentality of rioting mobs. Goff expressed concern that a coup could get out of hand quickly and spread to Nadi and other places.

Source NZ Herald

Pictures: Deputy Secretary Alan Williams of MFAT (who died in 2008) and Bainimarama and Qarase