26 Apr 2007

EU assesses Fiji's military coup as product of conflict among indigenous Fijians

8:01 pm on 26 April 2007

A European Union internal assessment of the December military takeover in Fiji describes it as mainly a conflict among indigenous Fijians.

It also states that democratic institutions and democratic culture are not sufficiently strong in Fiji and a differently calibrated approach may be called for.

Fiji TV reports that the dossier was prepared in mid-January by the European Commission to brief the Council of the European Union.

It says the EU had declared the May 2006 general election as free and fair and therefore the Qarase government had full democratic legitimacy.

The paper says the latest military takeover appears fundamentally different from the earlier ones, as it is not a reflection of tensions among indigenous Fijians and others, but mainly a conflict among indigenous Fijians.

It notes that the military had many grievances with the government before the takeover, which included some of a political nature which had considerable support within the population.

The EU paper says the commander's stance also reflects opposition to the traditional powers in Fiji - notably the chiefs and the churches - whose powers are being eroded by modernity.

The paper says the military takeover was neither legal nor constitutional and is a major backward step for democracy in Fiji.