Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fiji-ty

Some 18-19 or so years ago, Guambat was trying to get back from Sydney to Guam and the best available flight on the day was to go through Fiji, which didn't sound like a bad stop-over to a curious Guambat.

The stop-over started to get a bit longer than scheduled when a coup ensued. Guambat was damned fortunate to get the very last seat on the very last British Air flight out in the middle of the night. It went to Hong Kong, not Guam, but it went out.

Still, it was a very peaceful affair, and Guambat had a few pleasant chats with various shop-keepers and hotel staff from both sides of the Local-Indian divide. It is all part of coming to grips with the "new" Pacific, which is new in the sense that it is adjusting to folks settling in from other places upsetting traditional customs and habits, which is a process that began over 500 years ago for Europeans, and one that the Chinese and others from Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent, and even the Arab states, had had some involvment in for hundreds of years before. When something has been going on for that long, it is hard to consider it "new", but by doing so it entrenches the "old" so that something that might be called "racsist" if it were new can be called "indegenous" or "self-determination" if it is "old".

Anyway, it is the Pacific way for folks to sit around and try to talk these things through, but when the talk goes on too long, they get figity after a bit and tend for a bit of pushing and shoving, and when it all looks just too messy, they sit back down and talk a bit more. And so it goes that Fiji has been having these on-again, off-again coups for the last couple of decades.

And there's another one going on right now, even as Guambat blogs.

Fiji PM: Coup is under way

A coup is underway in Fiji, the country’s prime minister has said.

As heavily-armed troops raided key government installations and set up roadblocks throughout the capital, Suva, on Tuesday, Laisenia Qarase said the military had surrounded his house and confiscated his transportation.

He said he was unsure who was in control of his country.

"There is virtually a coup taking place. They have strangled the police force, they have neutralised them and now they are strangling the government machinery," Qarase told Radio New Zealand.

In Canberrra Australia's prime minister said he had turned down a request from Qarase for military help.

"The prime minister of Fiji rang me and asked for Australian military intervention in response to the coup," John Howard told reporters. "I indicated to him that that would not be possible."

The analysts at Stratfor sure misjudged John "The Deputy Sheriff" Howard on that one. They said,
"Australian troops off the coast of Fiji, including a large contingent of Special Air Service soldiers, are ready to forcefully assist in the evacuation of Australian citizens in the event of a coup. Furthermore, if the Fijian government asks for assistance, Australian Prime Minister John Howard likely will oblige, given his verbal commitment to protecting democratically elected governments against forced ousters."

Meanwhile, the Kiwis are not just tending their sheep.

New Zealand cuts ties with Fiji because of coup
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced her country was suspending military ties with Fiji in response to what she called a coup in the South Pacific country.

In the first international sanctions in response to the situation in Fiji, Clark told Parliament that military ties were being suspended and senior military officers and their families would be banned from traveling to New Zealand.

"The whole way in which the commander is mounting his coup is to get the prime minister to do his job for him, to get him to resign," Clark told reporters later.

"This is an outrage what is happening in Fiji today."


If you want to follow the fun, these are good local sites:

Fijilive.com

Fijivillage.com

Fiji Times online

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