I’m so immensely excited about having the chance to vote in the first Fijian elections in more than a decade. I’ve never had the chance to vote! And I’m absolutely uninterested in voting for the lesser of two evils in the U.S.
These are the parties seeking registration under the new decree:
- Fiji Labour Party (originally multiracial but now predominantly Indo-Fijian; led by Mahendra Chaudhry)
- National Federation Party (NFP) – predominantly Indo-Fijian; once a major political party
- Social Democratic Liberal Party (SDL) – a renamed and reformed Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
There is much controversy about the registration of political parties but hopefully, things will be sorted out. I’m neither a fan nor foe of Commodore Bainimarama’s regime, which is currently in power. I supported overthrowing Laisenia Qarase’s racist regime in 2006, while I also criticized Bainimarama’s deportation of Fijian academics, abolition of the judiciary and censorship of the bar. His stance against guaranteeing sexual orientation rights in the Constitution is also simply homophobic, even though Fiji was the first country in the Pacific to decriminalize homosexuality and only the second country in the world to provide affirmative protections for LGBTQ people in 1997.
I am hopeful to see Fiji returned to democratic rule, even though I’ve always been suspicious of how well democracy would work in such a racialized electoral system. Bainimarama’s staunch advocacy that all Fiji citizens, regardless of our ethnic groups, should be called Fijians should go some way in bringing about much-needed social change. However, the new Constitution suffers from serious defects, and I’m not too confident that it will prevail in the long run.
We seriously need to return the Fiji Labour Party to multi-ethnic roots, though it makes sense why a labor party in Fiji will be predominantly Fiji-Indian–we make up most of the labor force. My parents were staunch supporters of the FLP, and my Dad participated as an overseer of the electoral count during the 1998 elections. His cousin’s husband, Mr. Chaudhary, was elected as the first Fiji-Indian Prime Minister of Fiji. It all went downhill when in May 2000, George Speight kidnapped thirty-six government officials and held them from May 19, 2000 to July 13, 2000. The rest is the history of a true banana republic.
I was already in the United States when Speight abolished the Constitution and instituted military rule in Fiji and never witnessed any of the coups. But the 2000 coup brought about the exodus of thousands of Indians from the country, who are now settled in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.
Fijian nationals living in the U.S. can subscribe to a newsletter issued by the Fiji Embassy for updates. Contact info for the embassy:
EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI
2000 M Street, NW, Suite 710 | Washington D.C. 20036 | Tel: (202) 466-8320 | Fax: (202) 466-8325 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More details will be posted here once registration of overseas Fijians begins.