Thursday 13 Dec 2018 | 20:17 | SYDNEY
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Fiji election, from the polling booth

I arrived in Suva six days before the 2018 Fijian election, it was apparent that the country was bracing itself for a tight election contest. In 2014, Frank Bainimarama’s party, Fiji First, won in an electoral landslide. Its main opponent then, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA),

Fiji: elections and the slow path to democracy

It is a busy month for the Pacific islands region. Ten days ago observers watched as an independence vote in New Caledonia came much closer than polling predicted. Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a surprise with one of the most significant Australian policy “step ups” in the Pacific in

Fiji and human rights, the limits of influence

Fiji, the country with perhaps the worst human rights record in the Pacific, has just been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The event unfortunately coincided with the death of 26-year-old Josua Lalauvaki, who had been allegedly beaten by police in Suva last month. As is

Australia outbids China to fund Fiji military base

The competition of who gets to fund the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Black Rock Camp in Nadi came to close late in August, with Australia coming out on top over China. The RFMF’s chief of staff for co-ordination, Captain Eronia Duaibe, said that Australia’s bid was successful because

Sedition and Pacific media freedom

The decision by a Fiji court last week to acquit four people charged with sedition is a welcome step in the current regional debate over media rights and responsibilities. The Fijian-language paper Nai Lalakai, part of the Fiji Times group, published a letter by Josaia Waqabaca in

Fiji’s democracy cracks again

Last weekend Fiji's police force arrested six prominent opponents of the ruling party. Their alleged crime was breaching the Public Order Act by making remarks about the constitution at a conference convened by Pacific Dialogue, an NGO, on Fiji's Constitution Day. The arrests were nothing short of a

Fiji regroups: Coordination key to effective Cyclone Winston response

This first-hand account from strategic communications adviser Vani Vulaca tells what it was like when Cyclone Winston tore through Fiji, looks at which areas are in most need of aid, and explains the challenging logistics of coordinating disaster relief. Fiji has had its fair share of tropical

Fiji's democracy takes a hit

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Alastair Davis, an intern in the Melanesia Program. The process of rebuilding democracy in Fiji after eight years of military rule has taken a hit in recent weeks. Elections in 2014 engendered a sense of optimism for a

Russia ships arms to Fiji: What will be the quid pro quo?

By Anna Powles and Jose Sousa-Santos When the MV Saint Confidence and MV Solidat arrived in Suva Harbour last week to deliver a consignment of donated Russian weapons and equipment to Fiji, it sparked an immediate reaction. opposition MPs and security analysts have made several claims including:

Freedom of the press in Fiji under pressure

Fiji held its highly anticipated election in September 2014, but does that make it a democracy? There's much more to a functioning democratic system than people putting a mark on a piece of paper and dropping it in a box. Even the international election observers didn't go so far as to say the

Fiji grabs the limelight as leaders of China and India visit

Jenny Hayward-Jones is Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program and Philippa Brant is a Research Associate at the Lowy Institute. Pacific Island leaders have had the rare opportunity to meet the international leader of the moment, Narendra Modi, and the president of the world's

Chinese aid in Fiji coming under new pressures

I was in Fiji last week to get an update on Chinese assistance to the country, as part of a larger project I'm doing mapping Chinese aid activities in the Pacific islands, to be launched in early 2015. Navua Hospital, built with Chinese aid assistance, Fiji. (Author photo) Fiji is becoming

In Fiji, Bainimarama is back, stronger than ever

The Fiji elections have delivered a crushing victory for Rear Admiral (Retd) Bainimarama, author of the 2006 coup. The victory was crushing not only for FijiFirst, Bainimarama's party, but also for him personally. FijiFirst received 293,714 out of 496,364 votes cast, giving the party 59.20% of the

Fiji's election: More to do to restore democracy

After eight years of Voreqe Bainimarama's military rule in Fiji, there is much excitement about the prospects for Fiji's return to democracy with elections next week. Seven parties and one independent candidate will contest 50 parliamentary seats. 591,095 Fijians have registered to vote; 120,000

Fiji's election: Fair and free?

On 17 September, Fiji goes to the polls for the first time in eight years. This is a notable step forward given that, when I spoke to people in Suva a year ago, they were still phrasing things in terms of 'IF the election happens'. With the first pre-polling stations having opened a few days ago,

Fiji elections: What about the economy?

During the time Fiji has been governed by the military, there has been much discussion about the impact of the political situation on economic performance. Satish Chand has argued that each coup Fiji has experienced has pushed the economy back three years, and that the aggregate erosion of the

Fiji's election: Women make their mark

By Jojiana Cokanasiga, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program. She is completing a Masters in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development at the Australian National University.      Lawyers, entrepreneurs, academics and civil servants are some of the female

How Fiji outsmarted Australia

Last Friday Fijian Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama began his first visit to Australia since taking power in 2006. In response to the 2006 coup, Canberra had imposed travel bans for all members of the Fijian government. These were abandoned earlier this year by the Abbott Government.

Rights abuses continue in Fiji

Every year over 400,000 tourists flock to the pristine islands of Fiji, its celestial exterior barely revealing a turbulent political past. Fiji has been without an elected government since Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in a December 2006 military coup. That coup was the fourth the

Fiji: A flurry of election activity

    It has been standard practice for a while that the interim government of Fiji and its leader, Rear Admiral JV Bainimarama, makes big announcements late in the day or during weekends. Last weekend proved no exception. On Friday, we learned that the first elections to be held in

Australia-Fiji relations: Bishop's game-changer

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sprang a surprise on Australia's Fiji watchers last Friday. She not only pulled off what looked like a friendly meeting with Fiji's authoritarian prime minister but also revealed she would soon be normalising relations with Fiji, officially in the freezer

Fiji: An election in 2014 and Bainimarama will stand

In what may be the clearest sign yet that Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama (pictured) intends to make good on his promise to hold elections in 2014, he has announced that he will resign as head of the military on 28 February and stand for election. Bainimarama has promised that his

Reader riposte: Fiji's politics

John Caldeira writes: Your article on the current Fiji political situation is quite biased and poorly researched. Compared to the racist and corrupt governments of the past, the current government in Fiji has been a godsend. Not perfect. Everyone would like to choose their political leadership by

PNG Pacific leadership: Is Fiji the start?

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Goroka and a Lowy Institute intern. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (pictured) is acutely aware of the need to improve PNG's international reputation. Part of his plan to do this is to step up PNG's activities as a regional

Fiji constitutional referendum? Unlikely

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has released the much anticipated Fiji draft constitution, an extensive revision of the 2012 draft released by the Constitutional Commission, led by international constitutional law scholar Yash Ghai. The draft constitution marks a milestone in