Fiji still a worry as Chch conference nears
The political stability of Fiji continues to worry many New Zealanders, says former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon.
McKinnon will speak at the University of Canterbury's upcoming Christchurch conference on democracy in the Pacific.
"What worries us most about Fiji is the principal lack of democracy," McKinnon said.
"Countries survive for a while in dictatorial way but in the end people want a say who represents them. They have no formal structures it is that much harder to get them functioning again."
For 25 years, racial and political tensions in Fiji have been a steady source of instability and international isolation.
Following several coups from 1987 to 2006, Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth three years ago. The island nation has promised to hold free elections in 2014, prompting Australia and New Zealand to restore diplomatic ties.
"The balance of power between indigenous Fijians and Indian Fijians has proven to be a real problem since the first coup back in 1987," McKinnon said.
"Fiji is not dissimilar to Mauritius, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago with split populations. It is not a point of tension but the fact is always there. They are not always the same in views."
Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, who led two military coups in Fiji, is one of many Pacific leaders who will be attending the October 18 and 19 conference.
Rabuka, who went on to become the country's elected prime minister, will be a key speaker.
Other guests include Deputy Tongan Prime Minister Sam Viapulu, Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Samoan Justice Minister Fiame Mataafa, the Ulu of Tokelau and the Kiribati Speaker of the House.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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