Fiji Islands PopulationPeople of Fiji Islands
Much more than ethnicity behind Fiji's unrest - Population Reference Bureau
Fiji is still affected by a military coup d'état on 19 May 2000 in which Fijians took the first primmier of India, Mahendra Chaudhry, and other members of the parliamentary assembly held to ransom. Now the unelected transitional administration, named after the freeing of the kidnappers, has been unconstitutionalised, the man who was proclaimed lawful leader has stepped down and the state is waiting while the judiciary decides whether to dismiss the House and hold new parliamentary ballots.
There are no members of the caretaker administration of the removed administration seeking reappointment. Indeed, the Transitional Administration does not include any members of the Indian-Fijian fellowship that make up over 40 per cent of the country's 800,000 inhabitants. In Fiji, the media have reported the current state of affairs, including'ethnic resentment', which is soaring.
However, a better appreciation of recent Fijii' s fragility calls for an assessment of demographics, economics and politics. With many Pacific island states, the issue is not so much that they tend to collapse, but rather that they have never been fully merged. Fiji's population was never unified before Britain's reign, and the transplants of tens of thousands oftheir employees from the sub-continent of India to work on the islands' sugary estates only hindered the prospect of nationwide coherence.
Cultural and religious borders divide Fijians and Fijians of India origin, and the two groups have very low mixing states. This largely rural Fiji "nation" is also deep split into confederations and is being broken up more and more by classes and privileges. Allegedly, the 2000 putsch was carried out in the name of tribal justice to oppose India's one-year rule, defended by Prime Minister Chaudhry.
But the now detained captain of the military, George Speight, urged his claims against the commandant of the predominantly tribal Fiji army and against the Great Council of Chiefs (the highest depository of conventional power). Many of the kidnappers were tribal Fiji members of Chaudry's administration. The changes in landholdings are at the centre of many of the island's modern conflicts.
Over 80 per cent of all Fiji's territory is still occupied by Fiji's native landowners, and land-based laws cannot be amended without the agreement of the Grand Council of Chiefs. Chaudhry's immunity to the suspicion of the Fijians was a key factor in the present riots when he tried to support small Indian-Fijian peasants whose lease agreements expired.
Tribal Fiji landholders either wanted to cultivate the property themselves or obtain higher rentals with short lease agreements. Indian Fiji peasants tried to renewal tenancy agreements for at least 50 years, to obtain more security over the tenants' and tenants' rights and to obtain indemnification for soil improvement if the tenancy agreements were not extended. And a new design has increased these pressures.
Pacifist insular administrations are being called upon to reduce their bureaucracy dramatically, privatise official funds and abolish safeguard duties in order to provide appealing terms for overseas investments - at all costs. In many cases, the privately owned sectors have not been able to offset the loss of job and income, which has been accompanied by a dramatic reduction in the number of people employed by the state.
What we need is more commitment from the global world, which has a lasting interest in achieving territorialmostability. Actions such as strengthening peace-keeping capacity and targeted assistance for training, healthcare, infrastructure and employment could help to get Fiji back on its feet. 3. Mr. Finin is a research associate at the East-West Center in the Pacific Islands Development Program.
Wesley-Smith is an Adjunct Professor at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii. It'?s The New Pacifico Way. "Working Paperier 13, Pacific Island Developement Series (Honolulu : East-West Center, Juni 2000). It is available in English under the Website of the EastWest Center, http://www.eastwestcenter.org/pacific-islands-development-program/., verfügbar.
Further East-West Center articles and publication can be found at www.eastwestcenter.org/res-rp.asp. or researched.