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Australian and NZ academics’ double standards on Fiji democracy: downplaying the military mercenaries (Aug. 2018)


[Author’s note: I give footnotes in red].

Part I    Why lack of progress in Fiji elections?

Neutral international and local observers, including future contributors to the inevitable Multinational Observer Groups, must ask why four long years after the 2014 Elections, all the Opposition political parties in Fiji are still futilely demanding changes to the elections system unilaterally imposed on Fiji by the Bainimarama/Khaiyum Government, who together with the Supervisor of Elections (Saneem) and Chairman of the Fiji Electoral Commission (Suresh Chandra), arrogantly refuse to listen.

I suggest here that the lack of progress is in large part due to the failure of academics, both local and international, to point out fully all the deliberate biases engineered by the Bainimarama Government for the 2014 Elections, and to refuse to make clear recommendations for improvements that could have helped  to make Fiji’s 2018 elections to parliament genuinely “free and fair” for Opposition parties and candidates, and civil society organizations.

Also largely responsible for this lack of progress has been the continuing compromising silence of the progressive persons who have previously sat on the Fiji Electoral Commission and saw at first hand the unfairness and biases of the system.

[1]. The members of the first Fiji Electoral Commission were Chen Bun Young (Chairman), Professor Vijay Naidu, Jenny Seeto, David Arms, Alisi Daurewa, and James Sowane. They are notably silent about the biases in the 2014 Elections.

Worse still, a few of these commissioners, in collaboration with the same academics, have published their stamps of approval to the biased electoral system, just as does the continued silence of the current members of the FEC while their belligerent Chairman, Suresh Chandra, serves his political masters.

[2] The current members are Mr. Suresh Chandra (Chairperson), Ratu Paula Halaiwalu, Ms. Margot Marie Jenkins, Graham Bruce Southwick, Mr. Jawhar Lal, Ms. Kavita Raniga and Mr. Simione Naiduki. The Fiji Elections Office does not even have its own independent website but is part of the Fiji Elections Office.

At the core of the political problems in Fiji is not the “failed state syndrome” (that some academics have debated about endlessly), but the “failed society syndrome” where social and political leaders at all levels, state institutions  (like the police, the DPP, the Fiji Human Rights Commission) and social organizations (like the unions and religious bodies) refuse to confront and reveal the horrible truths about the 2000 coup and mutiny.  In the process, they leave an ignorant Fiji society to attempt to build a decent society on foundations of lies about the commitment of Bainimarama and the Fiji military to multiracialism and justice, applied equally to all.

 The muted voices of the local and international academics

After the 1987 coup, local academics together with equally courageous and active NGOs like Citizens Constitutional Forum, used to provide valuable independent critiques of the imposed 1990 Constitution and advice to political parties and through a free media, the Fiji public.  That active and free academic climate has been killed by pro-government university vice chancellors and the formerly active NGOs have been intimidated or are quietly co-operating with the Bainimarama Government.

I have previously pointed out the weaknesses of the local academic analyses as exemplified in a Special Edition of the Journal of Pacific Studies devoted to the 2014 Elections edited by Governance Professor Vijay Naidu (a former member of the FEC) and Dr. Sandra Tarte (a history/politics expert at USP). Here I focus on an Australian and NZ academic effort from which the public should have expected far more given that they are free from political interference or censorship by the Bainimarama Government, unlike the USP academics.

Historically, the international academics with credibility in Fiji have predominantly been from Australia and NZ, the larger developed neighbors with good governance systems themselves and with the greatest of geopolitical interest in Fijian political outcomes.  The Australian and NZ governments and political parties should note that this long-established credibility has been badly undermined by a recent book published by the Australian National University in collaboration with Canterbury University’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (in New Zealand), on Fiji’s  2014 Elections, mistitled The People Have Spoken.

The book was co-edited by Professor Steven Ratuva  (Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies) and Professor Stephanie Lawson (Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University). With no other substantial book output by Australian and NZ academia on this significant Fijian political event, this publication will tend to be seen internationally as Australian and NZ academia’s analysis of “democracy returning to Fiji” after eight years of military dictatorship, and few will realize how flawed and biased it is.

[3] Steven (aka known as Sitiveni) Ratuva is a former academic and my former colleague from The University of the South Pacific. Currently (early 2018), Ratuva is once more visible in Fiji issuing innocuous pronouncements widely publicized by an equally undiscerning media.

     With the 2018 Elections imminent, Fiji stakeholders must recognize the weaknesses and biases of NZ academics like Professor Ratuva who are currently extensively and indiscriminately quoted by a naive Fiji media as “expert political analysts”, and to put on notice other functionaries such as the current Members of the Fiji Electoral Commission, as well as observers from the next round of Multinational Observer Groups who will be soon hovering around the 2018 Elections and issuing their platitudes, as they did for the 2014 Elections. It emphasizes that that all opposition parties must make an effort to encourage local critical, objective and accountable academics to rise to the challenge of providing solid unbiased independent analyses and recommendations to Fiji voters and other stakeholders in the political processes in Fiji.

While there are many authors in this publication edited by Ratuva and Lawson, I will focus on Chapter 1 (“The people have spoken” by Ratuva and Lawson), Chapter 2 (“Shifting democracy: Electoral changes in Fiji” by Steven Ratuva) and Chapter 15 (“Concluding note: The election to end all coups” by Ratuva and Lawson).  While Lawson is credited as a co-editor, the compiler and driving force of the book was apparently Ratuva who was present and very visible in Fiji prior to and during the 2014 Election and is again present for the 2018 Elections.

[4]  Professor Lawson informed me in a personal conversation that the book was largely “Ratuva’s baby” and that her contribution was  limited to the article she is credited with (Chapter 3 on “Chiefly leadership in Fiji after the 2014 Elections”) and some polishing up of other authors’ contributions.

     I also briefly comment on Ratuva and Lawson’s choice of other contributors whose weaknesses and biases also reflect badly on the book as a whole.  Most surprising in this supposedly academic book on the 2014 Elections is the inclusion of a chapter by a former military officer (Col. Jone Baledrokadroka) who was centrally involved during the 2000 coup and 2000 mutiny and whose accounts of events , while rich in detail not previously publicized,  is nevertheless noteworthy for its lack of revelation of the highly questionable involvement of many senior military officers (including himself) in the 2000 coup and 2000 mutiny, and those supportive of and opposed to the 2006 coup.

Baledrokadroka’s 2012 PhD thesis at ANU likewise, while quite revealing of Bainimarama’s shady role in the 2000 coup and mutiny hides the equally shady roles of other senior military officers who were his colleagues, and fully name the many civilian coup plotters still prominent in public life in Fiji today.

I suggest that it is the failure of these academic historians like Professor Steven Ratuva, influential Journalism Professor David Robie etc.) to explore and explicitly spell out the highly questionable roles of these senior military  officers (including Baledrokadroka) in the 2000 coup and mutiny  and the 2006 coup, then logically that also then allows them to discuss at great length the so-called “developmental  role” of Bainimarama and the military in Fiji and the appeal they have to Indo-Fijian voters, while neglecting their pure mercenary role that has been in front of everyone’s noses for the last twelve years.

Summary of conclusions

I argue here that the analyses by Ratuva and Lawson (and their collaborating authors like David Robie) are significantly flawed:

  1. by ignoring the shady role of Bainimarama in the 2000 coup and the 2000 mutiny
  2. totally ignoring the horrendous fact that just prior to Bainimarama doing the 2006 coup, serious criminal charges of corruption, sedition, manslaughter and/or murder were about to be laid against Bainimarama by the Fiji Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes who subsequently had to flee for his life because of threats by the military;
  3. thereby accepting at face value the Bainimarama justification for the 2006 coup as due to his desire to eliminate the systemic corruption and ethno-nationalism of Qarase’s SDL Government and not his own self-preservation;
  4. accepting at face value and engaging in extended empty theoretical discussions of the success of Bainimarama/Khaiyum in unilaterally imposing the 2013 Constitution and Electoral system where Fiji citizens “are all Fijians and equal”, where ethnic minorities are protected,
  5. focusing on the superficial mechanics of the proportional vote system of the 2013 Constitution and comparing it to the previous Alternative Vote System of the 1997 Constitution, while ignoring totally its other important provisions for multi-party government which was actually in place at the time of the 2006 coup;
  6. failing to spell out that the Republic of Fiji Military Forces has gradually been converted by its most senior officers into a mercenary force, a momentous event barely hinted at in the selective account by former military officer Jone Baledrokadroka who is questionably being legitimated academically by being allowed a chapter in the academic Ratuva/Lawson book with many authors concluding with “time will tell homilies” on whether the military will withdraw from politics in Fiji;
  7. refusing to explore the full intimidating implications of the draconian military decrees;
  8. ignoring the less than neutral role of the Bainimarama-appointed heads of government institutions critical for the elections, primarily the Fiji Elections Office and Media Industry Development Authority, but also the intimidations by the Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the prisons;
  9. The abject failure of the Human Rights Commission (and coup collaborator Ashwin Raj) to defend the public’s basic human rights;
  10. the acceptance by the judiciary (and its Chief Justice Anthony Gates) of laws unilaterally enforced on Fiji by the Bainimarama/Khaiyum dictatorship;
  11. ignoring the totally biased role of the media organizations such as Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (TV and radio) and Fiji Sun (newspaper);
  12. ignoring the suppression of eight years of Auditor General Reports which highlighted massive misuse of taxpayer funds and possible corruption;
  13. totally underestimating the effect of the fear tactics employed by Bainimarama to obtain Indo-Fijian Fijian votes (“if you don’t want another coup, vote for me”);
  14. ignoring the massive vote-buying by the Bainimarama Government right up to the elections week
  15. using a title for their book “The People Have Spoken” which implies that whatever the faults, the 2014 Elections were reasonably “free and fair” and the results (“landslide victory”) meant a return of “democracy” and specifically arguing that “non-racial politics” engineered by the “vision” of Bainimarama won the day;
  16. by refusing to apply international (e.g. Australian and NZ) standards to the Fiji elections, effectively supporting the Bainimarama Government’s imposition of a system that denies the basic human rights of Fiji citizens to their own electoral systems and processes that meet international standards of social consensus.

Indeed, were elections in Australia and NZ conducted by their governments under exactly the same conditions as they were in Fiji in 2014, the analysis and conclusions by Ratuva and Lawson would be ridiculed by Australian and NZ academia and a discerning media; the Australian and NZ Opposition political parties and the respective electorates would probably refuse to participate in such manipulated elections; and there would be widespread rebellion among the voters.

[5]. Baledrokadroka is also given a chapter in the British based Round Table edition on the Fiji elections edited by Professor Brij Lal.

2          What if this had occurred in Australian or NZ?

Analysts in Australia and NZ need to ask themselves why it is so easy for western observers to refuse to apply developed country standards and expectations to Third World countries like Fiji struggling with military coups and dictatorships, or  Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.   Is there some mental filter that says- “What do you expect from these banana republics. Let us forget what their current prime ministers or presidents did twenty years ago”?

But the history of the political actors in Australia and NZ are rarely forgotten by their political analysts or their media or their voters, and Australian programs like Four Corners (ABC), The 7.30 Report (ABC) and even  60 Minutes (Channel 9) would have a field day.

I start by correcting the historical amnesia of Ratuva and Lawson regarding the shady and devious role of Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in the 2000 coup (inaccurately labelled globally and even locally as the “George Speight coup”) as well his possible role in the horrendous deaths of five CRW soldiers held in police custody after the 2000 mutiny.

Both are essential to understanding the motivation for Bainimarama’s 2006 coup, subsequent seizure of government, and promulgation of his own 2013 Constitution which most astonishingly of all, grants him and his coup collaborators immunity for unstated crimes between 2000 to 2014.

To drive home the utter absurdity of what has occurred in Fiji since the year 2000, and however tedious it will be to readers, imagine what would be the judgment of Australian and NZ political analysts and citizens if this horrendous sequence of events had occurred in Australia or NZ.   Central to the account of the 2000 coup is the RFMF’s own Evans Board of Inquiry Report (EBOI and EBOIR) which is incidentally also fully used and thereby validated by Col. Jone Baledrokadroka in his PhD thesis Sacred King and the Warrior Chief: the role of the military in Fiji politics.

[6]. It is a puzzle why numerous Fiji historians refuse to acknowledge the ample information on Bainimarama’s shady role in the 2000 coup as made explicit in the RFMF’s own Evans Board of Inquiry Report (EBOIR) which has been downloadable for years from the TruthForFiji website and has been used extensively by Col. Jone Baledrokadroka in his 2012 PhD thesis at ANU (except for his own role). Note that the EBOI included a certain Major Aziz Mohammed who was strangely quickly promoted to Brigadier (for reasons unknown) but never made Commander of RFMF while his relatively junior officers were jumped over him by Bainimarama.]

     Given Baledrokadroka’s amnesia about the names of his many senior military officers who colluded in the 2000 coup (and also those who opposed it), I also give in footnotes are  the names of Fiji military officers and civilians named in the EBOIR , only a few of whom have been jailed, while the majority roam free, with one or two even being part of Bainimarama’s Government to this day (barely reflected upon by the Fiji historians, other than in their footnotes), and some have passed on.

It is also sad that while the RFMF senior hierarchy come incredibly tarnished, there were many military officers who honorably resigned rather than collaborate in treason. To give credit to them, I name a few that I have come to know of.

  1. Undisputed 2000 facts:

With civilian marches taking place against the lawfully elected Australian Government in 2000, the Australian military commander is informed six months in advance, about a few military officers and some civilians planning a coup  against the Australian Government in Canberra. But he does nothing.

The Australian Commander is then warned a week before the actual coup, but chooses to go off to an unimportant meeting for low level officers in Norway, despite concerns expressed by the Governor General of Australia about the wisdom of his being absent at this unstable time. There is never any military inquiry into who the colluding military officers were and none of them are ever charged.

[7]. On which planet would a Commander of the Military when informed that some of his military officers were part of the planning of a coup against a lawful elected government, choose to go overseas in the very week that the coup was to occur?

 [8] The EBOI was told that Lt. Col. Baledrokadroka had been approached to do the coup but he apparently would not, for reasons best known to himself, Lt. Col. Filipo Tarakinikini was in contact with the CRW soldiers the morning of the coup while Lt. Col. Samu Raduva was also probably involved (EBOIR, p.xvi).  The EBOIR recorded that there were meetings at the residence of Ratu Apenisa Cakobau and at the parliamentary office of the Fijian Association Party where present were Silatolu (still in jail), Adi Litia Cakobau, Adi Talakuli Cakobau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Colonel Draunidalo, Rabuka, and George Speight (still in jail).

[9]. Readers should go through the evidence by Colonel Seruvakula in the EBOIR (pp. 939-).  Seruvakula was one of the few reliable military witnesses to the EBOI in contrast to many others who clearly gave minimal information, one or two even contemptuously.

Then, as military intelligence had warned, the small CRW military unit of the Australian military  with the support of the fundamentalist Methodist Church and some unsuccessful politicians in the previous Australian elections, does the 2000 coup and holds the lawfully elected Australian Government hostage in Canberra for 59 days.  Inexplicably, the Australian military HQ allows arms and food to keep going to the hostage takers, whose salaries are also maintained by the military, while several senior military officers visit the hostage takers.

An official inquiry reveals that the highest levels of the Australian military either supported the coup or were sitting on the fence.

[10] The EBOIR itself (pp. liii to xvii) gives 19 reasons why the CRW soldiers thought the military hierarchy supported the coup. This part was validated by Baledrokadroka in his PhD thesis at ANU.

[11] Military names mentioned to the EBOI as possible coup supporters included Alfred Tuatoko, Samu Raduva, Tarakinikini, Ulai Vatu, Naivalarua, Baleinamau and Bukarau.  But how extraordinary that Bainimarama was the only high ranking officer who refused to appear before the inquiry, threatening the Evans Board members that they would be discharged for “Service No Longer Required” if they dated to summon him to the inquiry. What the hell? The Commander of the Military refuses to appear before an official inquiry into a coup?

A principled few officers resigned after the 2000 coup.

[12] The public does not know about these few principled officers because they have remained silent publicly and this has allowed the reputation of the entire military to be wrongly tarnished as “treasonous coup supporters”. To correct the  record, I list some of the resigning officers such as Jim Sanday (after the 1987 coup), Sam Pickering, John Pickering, Kepa Buadromo, Patrick Hennings, Viliami Servuvakula, Macu Manulevu, Sosi Senibulu, Timoci Koroi,  Bradley Bower and Neori Tadulala. There were others.

Then only when the civilian coup leaders try to replace the Australian Commander does he have the treasonous CRW soldiers arrested, but only after a devious “accord” he signed with them.

[13] It is revealing that the Speight Group were appointing Col. Vatu as Commander and Tarakinikini as Chief of Staff. Tarakinikini later fell out with Bainimarama after the 2000 mutiny.

BUT after obtaining total control, the Australian Commander, with the support of three other former Australian military commanders, asks the Australian Governor General  to “step aside” and he claims to assume “Executive Authority” over Australia.

[14] The names of those former military commanders and former military officers who treasonously asked the President to “step aside” in addition to Bainimarama, included former Commanders Rabuka, Epeli Nailatikau (Mara’s son-in-law and later made President of Fiji by Bainimarama), and Epeli Ganilau (Mara’s son-in-law and later Minister in the Bainimarama Government after the 2006 coup), Esekia Savua (then Police Commissioner who stood idly by during the burnings in Suva during the height of the 2000 coup). The late Sir Vijay R Singh cogently and bravely pointed out all the legal anomalies in his articles (and book Speaking Out)

The Australian Commander even tries to himself become Prime Minister but desists when that is not supported by other senior officers. But then, he strangely refuses to return the lawfully elected Australian Government to power instead appointing an ethno-nationalist Interim Government sympathetic to the 2000 coup plotters. The Australian Commander even claimed that he had abrogated the Australian Constitution until a High Court Judge rules that attempt illegal.

[15] That judgement was strangely enough by the current Chief Justice of Fiji, Anthony Gates, who willingly supported treason by Bainimarama after 2006 annually giving pious lectures to new lawyers.

Six months later when some members of the same military unit feeling betrayed by the Commander (why wouldn’t they given the 17 reasons given by the EBOIR?) attempt a failed mutiny and try to kill him, five soldiers from the same CRW unit not necessarily involved in the actual coup are taken from police custody by military officers  and tortured to death  with no one ever being charged to date or even an inquiry being held.

[16] These facts were in the judgement by magistrate Ajmal Gulab Khan in a “workman’s compensation case” brought by the wife of one of the deceased (Kalounivale). The five murdered CRW soldiers were Selesitano Kalounivale, Jone Davui, Epeneri Bainimoli, Lagani Rokowaqa, Iowane Waseroma- five persons whose right to life has been shoved under the carpet by Fiji and its human rights warriors, including the snarling Ashwin Raj.   

Jone Baledrokadroka most strangely in his PhD thesis, has an “Interlude” in which he replies to unknown allegations that he had any role in the removal of the CRW soldiers from Police custody, and quotes from a Fiji Times article that

“the order to assault members of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare soldiers who were in police custody after the November 2, 2000 mutiny could have been issued by the Military Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, it was revealed when key military witness Colonel Jone Baledrokadroka took the stand before Justice Filimoni Jitoko in the High Court…”.

Yet journalists might want to investigate if the facts were that the police apparently were reluctant to release the CRW soldiers in custody to two military officers (Misivono and Salato) until they were told that the orders had come from Baledrodroka (which he denies) and the Commander (which Baledrokadroka alleges); and whether the apprehending soldiers were from a “Force Mobile Reserve” established by the Commander for “special tasks”.

[17] Successive Police Commissioners (including current former military officer, Qilio), all former military officers loyal to Bainimarama, never investigated the deaths of these five soldiers ; nor have successive DPPs (including the current one Christopher Pride) ever brought any charges, while successive Chairmen of Human Rights Commission (including the current one Ashwin Raj) have ignored this most horrendous abuse of the human right to life in Fiji’s history, unchallenged to this day.

The court martial for the soldiers involved in the mutiny revealed that police evidence of the military, police and civilians involved in the planning of the mutiny had gone missing.

[18] The Chairman of the Court Martial (Kaci Solomone) noted that they had not examined who were all involved in the planning of the mutiny but implicated by Shane Stevens were Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, Ulaisi Vatu, Tarakinikini, and a “Diners’ Club” of former and current ministers in government, including Rabuka who had turned up at the barracks at the height of the mutiny, with his Commander’s uniform in the back. Rabuka had even requested the President to reappoint him as Commander so that he could sort out the problems. Solomone even asked Bainimarama to tell the public who advised him to require the President to step aside, but there were no answers. 

  1. Undisputed 2006 facts: The Australian Commissioner of Police attempts to press a range of charges against the Military Commander including the 5 torture/deaths in 2000, abuse of office, sedition and treason) but fails and is forced to flee the country;

[19] The Fiji Commissioner of Police then was indeed an Australian police officers  Andrew Hughes.

The Australian military commander finally does a coup in 2006, despite the opposition of many senior military officers who he removes from office and who are totally forgotten by the Australian public.

[20] Many of the senior officers such as George Kadavulevu, Ilaisa Kacisolomone, Akuila Buadromo, Timoci Koroi, Meli Saubulinayau, Viliame Seruvakula, Orisi Rabukawaqa, Sam Waqavakatoga, and Sam Saumatua- all stood firm and most were expelled by Bainimarama prior to his doing the 2006 coup. There was no protest by the Public Service Commission.

The Australian Commander removes the democratically elected Australian Government, alleging widespread corruption  of which no evidence is ever provided eight years later.

Undisputed facts 2006 to 2014 (I give up giving detailed footnotes on the Fiji facts- these facts are all well known to the public).

  1. The police, the prisons, key areas of the public service and public enterprises are militarized, many being family members of the military commander, blatant acts of nepotism which the Public Service Commission stays quiet about;
  2. The military government receives the support from a faction of the judiciary after the Chief Justice and all unsympathetic judges are removed and most replaced by Sri Lankan judges and magistrates;
  3. The military government receives the support of the Leader of one of the political parties which ironically had been part of the deposed Coalition Government;
  4. The military government receives the support of the influential Catholic Church and other religious groups while the Methodist Church is suppressed;
  5. The military government suppresses the unions;
  6. As an alternative to the elected parliament, a nominated “National Council for Building a Better Australia” is established to create a “People’s Charter” supposed to be approved by a People’s Assembly (which is never appointed), while key recommendations in the People’s Charter are not followed, including the sanctity of the existing Australian Constitution.
  7. When the elections are not held three years later (as originally promised by the Military Commander to the international community) the military commander abrogates the Australian Constitution, replacing any remaining dissenting judges and magistrates by foreigners mostly Sri Lankans, all presided over by the same Australian Chief Justice who had earlier ruled that no one man had powers to abrogate a constitution however long he ruled and however popular he became with the public;
  8. The Military Government unilaterally appoints Human Rights Commissions and Media Industry Development Authorities sympathetic to the coup, while attacking and prosecuting all opponents of the military government;
  9. The media is totally controlled: in a blatant act of nepotism, a family member of one of the coup leaders is appointed to head the government controlled television and radio stations ; one newspaper receives preferential funding from Government and a monopoly on Government advertising; one independent television station is totally taken over by Military Government appointees; the only independent newspaper is denied public sector advertisements, publishers are ejected from the country or charged with trumped up crimes, as also are editors and journalists, with trivial cases that are allowed continue for more than two years; [21] One such case involving the publisher of the Fiji Times, the editor of the English language newspaper, the editor of the Fijian language newspaper, and a letter writer who questioned where there were so many Muslims appointed to high places in the Bainimarama Government, was allowed to drag on for two years. Even after being acquitted by a judge, the DPP has yet again appealed the case against the publisher (Hank Arts) and the letter writer. The Chairman of the Human Rights Commission who ignored the basic human rights of Hank Arts and the dictum “justice delayed is justice denied” had little difficulty galvanizing into a frothy diatribe over the Fiji Times reporting of a horrendous traffic accident.
  10. An independent international Constitution Review Commission of experts is appointed with great fanfare by the military government, but its Report, compiled after wide consultations, is rejected by the Military Government for no plausible reason. [22] How extraordinary that most academic historians have refused to objectively discuss why the reputable Yash Ghai Commission appointed by themselves (and including die-hard Bainimarama coup supporter  Professor Satendra Nandan) refused to explore why exactly that comprehensive document and draft constitution was rejected. Have a look at that report’s conditions for granting  “immunity” to coup collaborators.
  11. The military government embarks on massive unaccountable expenditures of tax-payer funds, doubling the Public Debt, appoints family members of the military commander to high places; massively increases the salaries and perks of the Military Commander and certain Ministers; suppresses all the Auditor General Reports (and other damaging reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics) until after the elections are held;
  12. With no input from the political parties, the Military Government forces its own Constitution on Australia, including its own choice of electoral system, draconian media decrees, and grants itself immunity for unstated crimes; [23]  How utterly extraordinary that the Fiji Chief Justice whose judges enforce the 2013 Constitution on Fiji refuses to ask how the agents who created a constitution can grant immunity to themselves for crimes unspecified, just as he refuses to ask how the 1997 Constitution could be removed by a military coup when he specifically ruled in a previous legal case that it could not be so changed, regardless of  how “popular” the ruler became, even if because of “hand-outs” (which Bainimarama called “scams” and “corruption” in the Qarase era.
  13. With no input from Opposition parties, the military government appoints its own choice of Australian Electoral Commission, which is put under the authority of the Supervisor of Elections, who serves the Minister of Elections, who happens to be the Secretary General of the ruling party (ha ha ha ha ha ha);
  14. With no input from political parties, the Minister for Elections (who also happens to be the Attorney General and is also the Secretary General of Military Government’s party), appoints his own young and inexperienced Australian Supervisor of Elections against the wishes of its own Australian Electoral Commission; the Supervisor of Elections refuses to comply with lawful instructions from the Electoral Commission despite it being supported by the courts; eligible opposition candidates are ruled out while military government candidates ruled ineligible by the Commission are allowed;
  15. The independent media is totally suppressed with the support of a totally the pro-Military Government Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) and its CEO, draconian Media Decrees, the media censorship, and biased media ownership and management; biased media journalists (some of whom stand for the Military Government party in the elections) pulverize the Opposition parties and candidates while refusing to ask questions of the Military Government;
  16. In return for special financial favors and massively reduced corporate tax, Australian corporate giants secretly give massive financial support to the Military Government who are not required by their laws to declare them;
  17. The military government engages in massive voter buying just prior to the elections, handing out tens of thousands of checks (worth exactly $1000) all over the country, with little to no accountability of their eventual use, showing the Fiji Development Bank how development should be financed- and there is no public outcry;
  18. The military government decides unilaterally what kind of electoral system it will have, removing all regional constituencies (which had existed for decades) and creating one national constituency;
  19. the Military Government demands that new parties must openly publish in the pro-government newspaper the names and signatures of at least 5000 registered voters (eventually three quarters of their “successful” MPs receive less than 1000 votes;
  20. The Military Government refuses to allow photos of candidates or parties to be on the ballot paper- just 250 numbers; with voters banned from taking “how to vote” cards into the polling booths (under pain of severe penalties);
  21. Australian NGOs are banned from engaging in voter education;
  22. All Australian university vice chancellors are appointed through Military Government influence and critical Australian academics are banned from giving public lectures at their universities while students are banned from protesting a neighboring colonizing country committing genocide against the indigenous population;
  23. Senior Australian academics who for decades have appeared on Australian media television and radio are banned from appearing on the same media before the elections while their newspaper articles are totally or partly censored.
  24. a relatively junior NZ academic (Professor Steven Ratuva- in case you did not guess) is however allowed to appear frequently on Australian media giving bland innocuous views about the military government and the military commander (who just happens to have been his classmate at school), the political parties and opinion poll results. He later produces an “academic” book on the 2014 Australian elections;
  25. the military government advises the cowering Australian population that if they did not want another coup they should vote for the Military Government’s Party (i.e. support the treasonous coup maker if they do not want another coup!)
  26. the military government totally controls the polling stations, the voting, the counting and the final reporting processes, with voters not allowed to take in “how to vote cards”, with no exit polls allowed, or independent audits of the counting of any polling station; results appear out of thin air; and votes are conveniently destroyed a year later “under statute”;
  27. While 90% of “successful” military government candidates get less than 1,000 thousand votes each, Opposition Parties and Independents are disqualified if they receive less than 27 thousand votes.
  28. The Australian Electoral Commission refuses to independently audit a single polling station result, simply alleging that checks and balances were in place. Then all ballot papers are conveniently burned a year after the elections, under statute.

If all these events had happened prior to and during Australian national elections, imagine the outrage of Australian Opposition parties and candidates, civil society organizations, the media, and the general public?

Imagine the plethora of television programs like 4 Corners, the 7.30 Report or even 60 minutes, revealing the truth and corruption.

Who doubts that independent academic analysts would label the elections a fraud on the nation, openly rigged.

So why is it that despite such events all occurring prior to and during the Fiji elections, academic analyses by Professor Steven Ratuva and Professor Stephanie Lawson (and some of their contributing academics such as Journalism Professor David Robie) still manage to convey the general impression that Bainimarama had some “multiracial development agenda” in mounting his 2006 coup, retaining control of government for eight years, ensuring that military officers remain as the President, the head of the police, the head of prisons, and that with the 2014 Elections, “The People Have Spoken” with “democracy” returning to Fiji.

Part of the answer, but only a small part of the answer, is Ratuva’s narrow and tunnel vision focus on the proportionality of the electoral system and the “lack of racism demonstrated by the 1 constituency” while ignoring all the other events I have listed above.

I discuss this and the other contributors like Alisi Daurewa, Leonard Chan, Professor David Robie, and Col. Jone Baledrokadroka in my next installment.

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