TAKING STOCK OF FIJI A YEAR AFTER THE COUP

Editorial

FijiSUN

SUVA, Fiji (Dec. 5) – A year to the day since the coup of 2006, Fiji is very obviously a changed nation.

It is no longer ruled by an elected government.

Its economy is in recession and shows no immediate sign of recovery.

There have been very serious human rights abuses though these, thankfully, appear to be on the wane.

The judiciary is seriously weakened and demoralised.

The civil service has become to an extent militarised.

The policy paralysis that afflicts most governments in mid term appears to have struck this one early.

There are very visible signs of double standards being applied.

There is lip service to the constitution which is ignored or bypassed as deemed necessary.

That's by and large the debit side of the ledger.

Unfortunately for the Interim Government, the credit side continues to consist more of intention than of action already taken.

Corruption, the major stated target of the coup, has not been proven, though the regime maintains its commitment to stamp it out.

The voting system is to be altered so that all votes have equal value.

Racism is to be a thing of the past.

The People's Charter will, we all hope, be a reliable gauge of the intentions and aspirations of a broad cross section of the population.

Elections are to be held in 2009 and credible moves are underway to ensure that this takes place.

There early signs of a defrosting of the relationship between ourselves and our regional and global friends.

An inquiry is underway into the magistrates courts.

The ousted chief justice - finally - knows the reasons behind his removal and can now defend himself.

With a full year of hindsight it is difficult to now avoid the conclusion that when it made its fateful move 365 days ago, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces could not have known what it was getting itself into.

For having approached the coup with a military plan (complete - some might say replete - with what has come to be known as psy-ops), it must soon have become apparent that running a government was far removed from a typical military operation.

Ate the same time the calibre of civilian personnel available to the Interim Prime Minister has been severely restricted - not least because of the travel bans - to the extent that serious blunders have been and continue to be made.

Yet all of this can be forgiven.

The interim regime's anti-corruption stance is as popular as it was a year ago - though its reluctance to take steps to clear allegations against some of its own continues to cause serious damage.

That said, there is little doubt that the Interim Government will lead Fiji into a general election in or close to March 2009.

Then will be the military's moment of truth.

Will the election result show that it has ineradicably altered the social and political make-up and attitudes of Fiji?

And if not, what then?

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