By Tom Peters, 19 December 2020
More than 23,000 people fled to evacuation centres on Thursday night as the Pacific island nation was hit by what could prove to be its most severe cyclone in history.
By John Braddock, 12 December 2020
The ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases across the Pacific is amplifying the existing public health crisis.
By John Braddock, 1 December 2020
The move to establish closer Fiji-Australian military ties is part of the intensifying US-led build-up to counter China’s influence in the south west Pacific.
By John Braddock, 23 July 2020
The global health and economic crisis is having a catastrophic impact on the fragile and impoverished former colonies across the Pacific.
By John Braddock, 25 June 2020
The government’s resort to authoritarian measures reflects growing social tensions as the economy nosedives.
By John Braddock, 7 March 2020
Ardern’s visit was used to cement relations with Fiji, which plays a critical role in the US-led drive to counter growing Chinese influence and prepare for war.
By John Braddock, 10 May 2019
The sacking and persecution of the FWA workers and ban on the protests again underlines the dictatorial nature of the Fijian regime, which rests directly on the military.
By John Braddock, 6 March 2019
The Labour-led government’s boost to the Fijian military is part of a Pacific Reset strategy to reassert its imperialist interests as part of the US-led confrontation with China.
By John Braddock, 16 November 2018
The election, marked by widespread voter abstention, was a contest between two parties run by former military coup leaders.
By Tom Peters, 14 February 2018
Australia and New Zealand have announced grossly inadequate aid after the storm destroyed crops and damaged about 40 percent of houses on Tonga’s main island.
By John Braddock, 26 January 2018
The court order reflected fears in ruling circles, including in the trade unions, that the dispute was threatening to provoke a broader rebellion among working people.
By John Braddock, 27 April 2017
The politically-motivated charges, alongside other anti-democratic measures, are bound up with deep-seated conflicts within the Fijian ruling elite.
By John Braddock, 16 December 2016
Ongoing and widespread brutality by Fiji’s security forces is conducted in a climate of “near impunity.”
By John Braddock, 4 November 2016
New Zealand’s welcoming of Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama was aimed at advancing the geo-strategic interests of the US and its local allies against China.
By John Braddock, 20 September 2016
The intervention of Australia and New Zealand has nothing to do with defending democratic rights in Fiji, but with countering Beijing’s growing influence in the region.
By John Braddock, 16 September 2016
The admission of two French territories into the Pacific Islands Forum signals the involvement of another imperialist power in a bid to counter China.
By John Braddock, 17 August 2016
Led by falling commodity prices and sharp declines in the Pacific’s largest economies, growth across the region will fall sharply in 2016.
By John Braddock, 21 June 2016
Bainimarama bluntly refused to accede to NZ Prime Minister Key’s agenda.
By Richard Phillips, 8 March 2016
While thousands of Fijians desperately need assistance, Canberra and Wellington have seized on the disaster to advance their own geo-strategic interests.
By Oscar Grenfell, 26 February 2016
Australia and New Zealand have responded by dispatching substantial military hardware to Fiji.
By Oscar Grenfell, 23 February 2016
The most powerful storm ever recorded in the region has produced a mounting humanitarian crisis.
By John Braddock, 20 February 2016
Moves by Russia to establish itself as a Pacific power, in response to the US drive to dominate the region, will only heighten tensions in the Asia Pacific.
By John Braddock, 28 January 2016
The shipment underlines the deepening geo-strategic tensions in the Pacific.
By John Braddock, 7 December 2015
Rising sea levels and extreme weather events are beginning to destroy Pacific Islands and threaten their existence.
By John Braddock, 8 September 2015
The sedition trials underline the continuing undemocratic nature of the Fijian regime, despite a bogus election in September 2014.
By John Braddock, 27 August 2015
The summit was part of Indian efforts to build defence and strategic ties in the Asia-Pacific, designed to counter Chinese influence.
By Frank Gaglioti, 4 October 2014
The major powers are seeking to forge stronger ties with Fiji as a means of undercutting China’s influence in the South Pacific.
By Patrick O’Connor, 18 February 2014
The normalisation of relations with the junta is aimed at undercutting Fiji’s ties with China.
By Frank Gaglioti, 23 January 2013
While elections are still to be held next year, the military leaders are determined to retain a major role in government.
By Frank Gaglioti, 11 January 2013
The military is insisting that it continue to have a say in the governance of the Pacific island nation.
By Terry Cook, 31 December 2012
High winds flattened homes, destroyed farms, ruined crops, uprooted trees and tore down vital infrastructure.
By Frank Gaglioti, 4 October 2012
The small Pacific state is being drawn into the vortex of the US-China rivalry that is reaching into every corner of the region.
By Patrick O’Connor, 4 August 2012
The move is aimed at countering China’s growing diplomatic influence in Fiji and the South Pacific region.
By Will Morrow, 1 February 2012
More than 3,500 people were forced to flee their homes last week to makeshift evacuation centres established in schools, military bases and government buildings.
By Will Morrow, 6 January 2012
The decision was cautiously welcomed by the US and Australia, signalling a possible rapprochement between the regional powers and the military junta.
By Will Morrow, 17 December 2011
Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s military regime has deepened its assault on the working class, seeking to lure foreign investment.
By Patrick O’Connor, 1 September 2011
In 2009, amid fears of rising Chinese influence, the parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island Affairs secretly urged the US to pressure Prime Minister Rudd to reach an accommodation with the Fijian regime.
By Frank Gaglioti, 18 July 2011
The initiative was aimed at reinforcing US dominance in the region and came as the Obama administration stepped up its provocative efforts to contain Chinese influence in East Asia.
By Robert Morgan, 27 May 2011
Beijing told Canberra the 2009 flight to Fiji was a mere “transit” stopover, en route to Latin America, but Vice President Xi Jinping then spent two days meeting with senior junta members.
By Frank Gaglioti and Patrick O’Connor, 25 May 2011
Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara has coupled his demand for “regime change” with an appeal to Australia and New Zealand to intervene.
By Patrick O’Connor, 4 April 2011
Canberra’s strategy of shoring up its control over the South Pacific by forcing the military to return Fiji to civilian rule now lies in tatters.
By Frank Gaglioti, 21 October 2010
The Obama administration has moved to reestablish ties with the military regime in Fiji, cutting across the Australian government’s imposition of sanctions.
By Patrick O’Connor, 15 July 2010
Amid rising great power rivalries across the Pacific, the Australian government sabotaged a meeting of Melanesian Spearhead Group heads of government that was due to be held in Fiji next week.
By Frank Gaglioti, 12 July 2010
The Media Industry Development Decree 2010 contains a series of antidemocratic prescriptions aimed at silencing any voices of opposition against the regime.
By Patrick O’Connor, 18 March 2010
Cyclone Tomas inflicted major damage in parts of Fiji this week. Fiji’s military dictator, Frank Bainimarama declared a state of emergency in the country’s northern and eastern divisions.
By Patrick O’Connor, 3 February 2010
Pressure is mounting within the Australian foreign policy establishment for Canberra to normalise relations with the Fijian military junta.
By Frank Gaglioti, 7 November 2009
Tensions between Fiji and the two regional powers, Australia and New Zealand, intensified further this week after Suva expelled two top diplomats for interfering in the country’s internal affairs.
By Frank Gaglioti and Patrick O’Connor, 24 July 2009
Coming ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ summit in Australia early next month, a defiant speech by Fiji’s strongman Bainimarama and the divided response are indications of Canberra’s waning hegemony in the South Pacific.
By Frank Gaglioti, 27 May 2009
With Fiji on the verge of bankruptcy, Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s regime has stepped up its attacks on the conditions of workers and small farmers.
By Will Marshall, 4 May 2009
The Fijian junta’s determination to defy the Australian government has exacerbated the dilemma confronting Canberra in the South Pacific. The rise of China as an alternative source of economic and political support is undermining the previous dominance of the US over the region and therefore Australia’s role as Washington’s proxy.
By Frank Gaglioti and Patrick O’Connor, 14 April 2009
Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s rejection of a Fijian Appeals Court ruling and defiance of Australian government threats reflect the shifting balance of power in the South Pacific. With Beijing’s economic and diplomatic influence rapidly growing, Canberra can no longer be sure that its dictates will be obeyed in its long-standing sphere of influence.
By Frank Gaglioti, 2 February 2009
A “special leaders’ retreat” of the 16-member Pacific Islands Forum, convened in Papua New Guinea on January 27, concluded with a threat to suspend Fiji from the regional body unless the military junta announces elections by May 1 and conducts the poll by the end of the year.
By Margaret Rees, 15 January 2009
Tropical storms triggered severe flooding in Fiji last weekend, killing at least 11 people. More than 9,000 people have abandoned their homes and fled to evacuation centres.
By Frank Gaglioti, 22 October 2008
Fiji’s High Court has effectively whitewashed the 2006 military coup that ousted the former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.
By Frank Gaglioti, 10 October 2008
The Fijian military junta is currently promoting its draft "People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress"-which outlines proposed economic and political reforms-through a series of public forums and "consultations".
By Frank Gaglioti, 29 August 2008
Labour Party leader and interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has resigned from Fiji’s crisis-ridden military regime along with two other Labour Party ministers, depriving interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama of a key political prop. Since taking power in a military coup in December 2006, the regime has been unable to fulfil its aim of stabilising the Fijian economy and is riddled with internal contradictions.
By Frank Gaglioti, 19 September 2007
Fijian military dictator Frank Bainimarama reimposed emergency rule on September 5 following deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase’s return to the capital, Suva. An earlier emergency decree, declared after last December’s coup, was lifted in May. Its reimposition underscores the depth of the crisis facing the unstable military regime.
By Frank Gaglioti, 16 April 2007
Fijian civil servants voted to strike last month against the military junta’s proposed 5 percent pay cut and elimination of thousands of public sector jobs through the reduction of the retirement age from 60 to 55. While the strike ballots reveal mounting working class opposition toward the administration’s pro-investment economic agenda, the trade unions are doing everything in their power to cut a deal with the regime and avoid industrial action.
By Frank Gaglioti, 6 April 2007
The Howard government, in close collaboration with the US, European Union, and New Zealand, has signalled its readiness to tacitly recognise the Fijian military regime and normalise diplomatic relations. The rapprochement underscores the cynicism of Canberra’s purported concern for democratic rights in Fiji following the military’s takeover last December. Howard’s real priority, both then and now, is to preserve stability in the South Pacific and prevent any diminution of Australia’s regional strategic position.
By Frank Gaglioti, 6 March 2007
The Fijian military regime’s finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, introduced a revised 2007 budget on March 2, imposing the brunt of the small Pacific island state’s disastrous economic situation on public servants and working people in general. With Fiji’s Reserve Bank warning that the economy will contract by 2.5 percent of GDP this year, the budget represents a desperate bid by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s junta to deliver the requirements of investors.
By Frank Gaglioti, 1 March 2007
A Pacific Islands Forum Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report, leaked to the PacNews agency on February 20, urges the Fijian military regime to stand aside and install an interim civilian administration. However, it does not call for a return of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s government, which was forced out of office on December 5.
By Frank Gaglioti, 27 February 2007
Since seizing power last December, the Fijian military junta has not hesitated to ride roughshod over basic democratic rights and use brute force to silence any opposition. Arbitrary arrests, the use of physical violence against detainees and at least one death in custody all point to the ruthless methods being used.
By Frank Gaglioti and Peter Symonds, 16 January 2007
Fiji’s coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama announced his cabinet last week and, in doing so, made clear the sharp divisions in the country’s ruling elite that underlay his seizure of power on December 5. The military leader assumed the post of prime minister while the remainder of the cabinet is drawn from opposition parties—the Labour Party and National Alliance Party (NAP)—as well as a number of technocrats.
By Rick Kelly, 22 December 2006
More than two weeks after the Fijian military overthrew the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, no administration or junta has been formed. Power remains concentrated solely in the hands of Commodore Frank Bainimarama and his appointed interim prime minister, 77-year-old army doctor Jona Senilagakali.
By Rick Kelly, 8 December 2006
After ousting the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on Tuesday, the Fijian military has moved to consolidate its uncertain grip on power, and has warned the population that it is prepared to use force to suppress any opposition. Heavily armed soldiers continue to man checkpoints in Suva, the country’s capital.
By Rick Kelly, 6 December 2006
The Fijian military yesterday overthrew the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Military head Commodore Frank Bainimarama declared himself interim president and appointed 77-year-old military doctor Jona Senolagakali as prime minister. Heavily armed soldiers are patrolling the streets of Suva, Fiji’s capital.
By Rick Kelly, 4 December 2006
Amid a highly unstable and uncertain standoff, Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and military head Commodore Frank Bainimarama are both claiming control of the country. Bainimarama has declared that his long-threatened “clean up campaign” against the government is now underway. He claims the military will soon install a new interim cabinet to replace Qarase’s, but it has not yet done so, despite the passing of numerous deadlines for the government to meet its demands. Qarase continues to insist he will not resign and remains in charge.
By Rick Kelly, 29 November 2006
Amid stepped up threats by the Fijian military to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Canberra is taking aggressive steps to protect its interests in the country and the region. The Howard government will host a meeting of the 16 Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers on Friday in order to invoke the “Biketawa Declaration,” which authorises regional intervention into the affairs of member states, potentially including military intervention.
By Rick Kelly, 9 November 2006
The Fijian military has stepped up its criticisms of the government amid ongoing fears of a coup. Military head Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who returned to Fiji from the Middle East last Saturday, yesterday condemned the government’s “lack of integrity, moral courage, and sound judgement”. While claiming that he did not wish to overthrow Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Bainimarama did not rule out a coup if the military’s demands were not accepted.
By Mike Head, 2 November 2006
A tense standoff between the government and the army in the Pacific Island state of Fiji has raised the prospect of another coup—the fourth in two decades. Behind these extreme tensions lie a deepening social and economic crisis that is further compounding the unresolved conflicts in Fijian ruling circles created by the previous attempted putsch in 2000.
By Frank Gaglioti, 23 June 2006
The death of three Fijian security guards in Iraq on June 9 brought the Fijian death toll to 11 over three months and highlighted the little known involvement of more than 3,000 Fijian nationals as soldiers and contractors in the US-led occupation. The tragic deaths have had a terrible impact on the tiny island state of 893,000 people. The Fijians are economic conscripts sucked into the Middle East war through their desperation to escape poverty and unemployment at home.
By Frank Gaglioti, 26 May 2006
The ruling Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewe ni Vanua (SDL) Party won a majority in Fiji’s closely-fought election last week, enabling incumbent prime minister Laisenia Qarase to claim victory on May 17. But the racially polarised outcome has only set the stage for further political turmoil.
By Noel Holt, 13 May 2006
With the assistance of the government and the Fiji Mine Workers Union (FMWU), the Australian-owned Emperor Gold Mine (EGM) has forced workers to accept the restructuring of its operations in the northwest region of Viti Levu Island and the slashing of around 300 jobs.
By Frank Gaglioti, 10 May 2006
Voting commenced in the Fijian elections on May 6 under tight military and police security. The poll is being conducted over a week amid considerable tension, including threats of a coup if the Labour Party emerges as the winner. The campaign has been dominated by appeals to race and ethnic identity to divert attention from the increasing economic and social instability facing the Pacific island state.
By Frank Gagliotti, 16 January 2006
Bitter divisions in ruling circles in the small Pacific island state of Fiji have resurfaced after the country’s military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, last week threatened to stage a coup if the government proceeded with its planned Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill. The legislation, which would provide amnesty for the leaders of a May 2000 coup attempt, is due to be passed in February when the parliament resumes.
By Frank Gaglioti, 11 August 2005
Legislation under discussion in the Fijian parliament threatens to precipitate a full-blown political crisis in the small island state, just five years after a failed coup attempt in 2000. The key element of the Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill that has provoked bitter controversy is a proposed amnesty for those involved in the coup, including nominal coup leader George Speight, who is serving a life sentence for treason.
By Frank Gaglioti, 16 June 2005
In a move that is certain to heighten political tensions, the Fijian government tabled its so-called Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill in parliament on May 31. The legislation, which has been derided as the “Get-Out-Of-Jail Bill” in the Fijian press, provides a general amnesty for those involved in seizing control of parliament in May 2000 and holding the Labour-led government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry at gunpoint for nearly two months.
By Frank Gaglioti, 19 May 2005
The April closure of the Ghim Li Apparel factory, Fiji’s largest manufacturer, will have a devastating impact on the economy and dramatically heighten social and political tensions in the small Pacific state. The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Savenaca Narube, has already slashed the projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for next year from 1.5 percent to 1.2 percent.
By Frank Gaglioti, 11 August 2004
Fiji’s Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli and four other leading politicians, including the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, were sentenced last Friday to jail terms for sedition and taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence. Seniloli is the most senior figure to be found guilty for his role in the 2000 coup attempt.
By Frank Gaglioti, 1 July 2004
Amid extraordinary security precautions, the trial of Fiji’s Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli and five other leading political figures on charges related to their participation in the May 2000 coup attempt opened in the Suva high court on Monday. The six have been charged with sedition and taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence, and, if found guilty, could face life imprisonment.
By Frank Gaglioti, 27 April 2004
A severe tropical rainstorm has caused major flooding on Fiji’s two main islands—Viti Levu and Vanua Levu—leaving local authorities struggling to cope with the thousands of people who have been affected. The storm began on April 8 with wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour accompanied by torrential rain that lasted for more than a week, causing flash flooding and landslides.
By Peter Byrne, 22 February 2002
Two recent court cases highlight the tensions wracking the Fijian political establishment nearly two years after businessman George Speight led elite soldiers and thugs in a coup that ousted Mahendra Chaudhry’s Labour Party-led Peoples Coalition government. Both court cases had potentially explosive implications for Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s unstable, racially-based government.
By Peter Byrne and Mike Head, 27 November 2001
Since elections nearly three months ago, the racially-based Fiji government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has consolidated its hold over the country, primarily due to the role played by the Labour Party, led by ousted prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry.
By Peter Byrne and Mike Head, 17 September 2001
Following general elections earlier this month, Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has appointed a cabinet without a single Indo-Fijian member and excluded the Labour Party, sparking a fresh political and constitutional crisis in the Pacific Ocean island state of some 820,000 people. By rejecting the Labour Party’s request to join the ministry, Qarase breached the country’s 1997 Constitution, which requires cabinet seats to be offered to all parties with more than eight Members of Parliament.
By Peter Byrne, 25 August 2001
When voting begins today in Fiji’s general election, the 451,000 voters of the Pacific island state will face an unprecedented array of 18 parties, some of which did not even exist several months ago. Of the 351 candidates standing for 71 parliamentary seats, about half represent new parties.
By Will Marshall, 28 June 2001
The military-appointed regime in Fiji and key members of the judiciary are going to great lengths to delay two court cases, both of which have the potential to destabilise, if not remove, the current government.
By Tim Joy, 19 March 2001
Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, himself newly re-appointed by the unelected Great Council of Chiefs, has reinstalled the military-backed government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, which was declared illegal by Fiji's Court of Appeal on March 1.
By Tim Joy, 13 March 2001
Having met for two days, Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) broke up last Friday without making any decision on the country's political crisis. Acting President Ratu Josefo Iloilo called the 52 landed chiefs together to obtain advice after the Fijian Court of Appeal declared the military-installed Interim Government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase illegal. Unable to agree, however, the chiefs adjourned until this week to consider their options.
By Tim Joy and Mike Head, 3 March 2001
Despite being declared illegal by Fiji's Court of Appeal on March 1, the country's military-installed Interim Government has refused to step aside and its leaders have indicated that they may try to cling on to office. Far from resolving the political crisis created by last May 19's seizure of parliament by elite army units and racialist gunmen led by George Speight, the court's verdict has sparked a new power struggle within Fiji's ruling elite.
By Tim Joy, 12 February 2001
Political tensions are coming to a head in Fiji with the country's highest court—the Court of Appeal—due to sit on February 19 to rule on the legality of the interim government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. The police have banned all demonstrations on the day that the case opens.
By Tim Joy, 4 January 2001
A Fijian High Court Judge has denied an application by the military-appointed Interim Government for an order staying his earlier ruling that the government is illegal. The latest decision by Justice Anthony Gates, handed down on December 20, has widened the split between the regime and sections of the judiciary and deepened political uncertainty in Fiji.
By Tim Joy, 19 December 2000
The Australian and New Zealand governments have strengthened their support for the military-installed interim government in Fiji by making it plain that they are not calling for the reinstatement of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.
By Mike Head, 20 November 2000
A Fijian High Court judge ruled on November 15 that the military-appointed Interim Government of Laisenia Qarase is illegal, heightening the volatile political situation in the Pacific island state.
By Mike Head, 4 November 2000
Sharp and unresolved differences within Fiji's military regime erupted to the surface on November 2 when members of the elite Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit who participated in George Speight's May 19 coup seized an armoury and other sections of the military headquarters in Suva, Fiji's capital.
By Tim Joy, 20 September 2000
The High Court of Fiji has ordered a magistrate not to rule on treason charges against coup leader George Speight and 11 other detainees, preventing their release. The court's intervention points to divisions within the judiciary as the military-backed interim government struggles to assert its legitimacy and win stronger backing from the Western powers.
Intent on securing Western support
By Tim Joy, 21 August 2000
In an apparent effort to retain Western backing and lure foreign investment, Fiji's military-appointed government charged coup leader George Speight and 14 others with treason on August 11. By laying such serious charges—treason carries the death penalty—the regime seems anxious to prove that it is in firm control of the Pacific island state.
By Mike Head and Linda Tenenbaum, 1 August 2000
The mass arrest of George Speight and his followers last week points to a deal being struck between Australia and other Western powers and Fiji's military leaders. In return for taking action against Speight and reasserting control over the country's divided armed forces and police, the military's handpicked regime will be subjected to only limited sanctions, while international demands for the restoration of the elected Chaudhry government, deposed by Speight's self-styled “civilian coup” of May 19, will be dropped.