The Strange Career of Commodore Frank Bainimarama's 2006 Fiji Coup

Brij Lal

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    Five December 2006 may well go down in the annals of modern Fijian history as the date when the country dramatically changed course — a turning point when the country finally turned. What the future holds for that ill-fated island nation state is not at all clear, nor likely to be for some time, but it is now surely beyond dispute that the 20th century, with its assumptions and understandings about the nature and structure of Fiji’s political culture, effectively ended not in 2000, but in 2006 when Commodore Bainimarama executed his military coup. The break with the past is decisive and irreversible. An improbable coup has largely succeeded in destroying the foundations of the old order, and a new one is promised to ‘take the country forward’. That promise for now remains just that: a promise. Everyone accepts that a race-based electoral system is counterproductive for a multiethnic democratic society, that gender inequality is indefensible, that all citizens should have equal rights, that citizenship should be race neutral. Change in a society, as in any living organism, is inevitable, constant, though it is more easily asserted than effected. But the larger question is change for what purpose? To what end, at what pace, on whose terms, under what conditions, through what means, at what price? This is the conundrum at the heart of the current political debate in Fiji. I will not attempt to answer these questions here. My purpose is not to speculate about what Fiji’s future might look like under Bainimarama, but to understand the constellation of forces that served to consolidate the Commodore’s coup. This, I hope, may provide us with some pointers for the future
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodySSGM
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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