FIJI MILITARY COUP HAS LITTLE POPULAR SUPPORT

Editorial

Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Dec. 5) - The takeover of the democratically-elected government by army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has been rightly denounced by the international community and the majority of people in this country who believe in democracy and the rule of law.

In the days and weeks to come, the army will know the extent of opposition to its action to sack Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his government. Already Australia and New Zealand have imposed sanctions against Fiji. No doubt trade unions will follow suit.

What Commodore Bainimarama has done is to ignore and brush aside the mandate of the people who elected the government of their choice in the general election last May and put in what he thinks is good for the people.

This is the second illegal takeover of a democratically elected government in six years, and it does not look good at all for the country especially for tourists and overseas investors who want to come and set up businesses.

The illegality of the Fiji Military Forces activities continues to mount as it takes the country to the brink of disaster and chaos.

Forget the sight of guns in public; what is more frightening is the blatant disregard for the rule of law by an institution, which had vowed to uphold it. It is obvious the soldiers are deliberately ignoring the law because almost every activity they undertook yesterday was against the law.

It does not take someone with a law degree to see that the military is doing things the wrong and illegal way. And someone has to eventually answer for that in a court of law.

They continue to flout the law while pursuing their so-called clean-up campaign—the confiscation of vehicles assigned to Cabinet ministers, the removal of weapons and ammunition from the police armories, and the overthrowing of the Qarase government.

Not only the army but the signals coming from Government House also seem to be condoning the extra-legal activities of the military. It is outrageous and absurd that the President, of all people, is seen supporting any unconstitutional activity.

He wants Qarase to resign or fully meet the list of demands from the army. Qarase rightly rejected both because he has not done anything and some of the demands by the army are illegal anyway.

But the present situation did not arise from a vote of no confidence in the Government. The Qarase government still commands the confidence of the House of Representatives and there is practically no reason to resign and dissolve Parliament. The President, therefore, has to act carefully and at all times within the law.

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