early 2005 bills introduced in Parliament
To pardon those who led the 200 uprising
to transfer coastal land rights to ethnic Fijians, most of whom are christians and deprive those rights to ethnic Indo-Fijians, most of whom are Hindu.
by early 2006 relations between the government and the military were at the best strained
22 Sept Bainimaramar openly critisises the bills publicly.he said they encouraged a disrespect for law.
The next day Prime Minister Quarase declared the statements of being unconstitutional, and announced his intention to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for a judgement on the proper role of the military.
The same afternoon, however, United States Ambassador Larry Dinger said that in a democracy the military must never challenge the rule of a constitutional government, Dinger insisted. he made the statement after consultation with near neibours Australia, New Zealand and France.
On 23 sept Fabienne invites Robert for a holiday in Fiji.
On 25 September, military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said that the government’s proposed court action was a threat to the nation,
On 6th of October, Leweni call on the goverment to resign.
16th october Bainimarmar gives goverment three weeks to resign he repeats his critizism of the bills before parliament but also quotes foreign interference and quoyes police commissioner Andrew Hughes as an example. He specifically mentioned that Hughes was pursuing him on a charge of sedition relating to his comments on22nd of september.
Everyone knew that Hughes had raised an elite well armed police unit the tactical response group which he hoped would be able to neutralise any military revolt.
Bainimaramar then left the country to inspect Fijian troops in the middle east followed up by a visit to new Zealand for his grandaughters baptism.
In his absence, the prime M inister fired Bainimaramar but could not get anyone to volounteer to take his place. on 31st October military staged exercises around Suva, and Major Leweny said the army was loyal to Bainimaramar but the exercises were not threatening.
On 24th November Andrew Hughes announce publicly that he would press sedition charges against Bainimaramar.
He had worked with the New Zealand Government to investigate wether Bainimaramar could be arrested in New Zealand. New Zealand lawyers and police said yes and Hughes sent two of his officers to take part in the arrest but the new zealand goverment decided against making the arrest, Instead on 28th of November Qarase visited new Zealand for a mediation conference hosted by Winston Peters, the new Zealand minister of foreign affairs.It was unsuccessful.
On the 26th of November whilst still in New Zealand Bainimaramar mobilised 1000 army reservists
30 November Despite the goverment’s attempts to reach a compromise Bainimaramar issued an ultimatum resign on ist December or be overthrow by military action.
Prime Minister Quarase appealed to Australia and New Zealand and possibly France for assistance.
At this point Hughes decided that all those who had given support to him and opposed Bainimaramar should leave Fiji. The rescue mission was activated.
incedibly the deadline was extended by two days to avoid interfering with the annual rugby union game between the Police and the Army.
On the 4th of December the military surrounded the tatical response unit and the police academy and removed all their weapons. Bainimaramar claimed the action was taken to protect the police in case of misunderstandings.
On the 5th of December Quarasi was attending a meeting at Naitasiri 30 miles from Suva. He returned to his house in Suva by helicopter to avoid a military road block.
Later the same day the Prime Minister was stopped whilst trying to enter Government house. and the army surrounded the offices of all goverment ministers and confiscated their cars.
The military entered parliament and stopped a debate whose objective was to condem the military for their actions
Bainimaramar announce that he was in control of the government on the 6th december
A military doctor, jona senilagaki was appointed caretaker prime minister.
On the 5th january Bainimaramar was appointed interim prime minister
Bainimaramar in New Zealand
Fiji’s chief of police made a private call to his New Zealand counterpart urging him to arrest Commodore Frank Bainimarama a few weeks before the military leader seized power in a coup in
It was reported at the time that a request had been made through Interpol and rejected by the New Zealand Government but only now can details from behind the scenes be vealed.
In November 2006 then Police Commissioner Howard Broad took the call from his Fiji counterpart Andrew Hughes, an Australian, who wanted to know if Commodore Bainimarama had committed any offence under New Zealand law for which he could be arrested.
Teams of police officers from both forces worked over a weekend and agreed the future dictator could be charged in New Zealand with perverting the course of justice in a foreign jurisdiction.
Mr Hughes sent two senior officers – an assistant commissioner and a senior detective – to New Zealand to liaise in the planned arrest.
“Then Howard Broad had a change of heart,” said Mr Hughes. “He said New Zealand Foreign Affairs preferred a political solution.
“I argued it was his decision as Police Commissioner as to who should be charged in New Zealand.”
At the time Commodore Bainimarama was in New Zealand for his granddaughter’s christening and the Foreign Minister at the time, Winston Peters, had taken the opportunity to broker talks between him and elected Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase aimed at diverting Fiji’s lurch towards a military takeover.
A day later, Mr Hughes received a call from Mr Broad.
“Of course I would do all in my power to protect all the people in Fiji but a blanket assurance of that kind was not possible. It would be like me asking him for a similar assurance covering all Fiji people in New Zealand. It wasn’t possible to give him that.
“In the end, Mr Broad told me, ‘Well, we’re not going to arrest him.”‘
Mr Broad, now retired, told the Weekend Herald yesterday in a written statement that he remembered the call well.
“I remember it as a highly unusual request to consider an allegation against the Chief of Defence Force of a neighbouring country’s properly constituted Government.
“I remember giving this decision a lot of consideration because it contained complex operational, legal and policy issues. I made the decision but I took a lot of advice. I remain comfortable with it.”
He said some aspects of Mr Hughes’ explanation did not accord with his recollection but he did not specify what they were.
In Suva, the Fiji police force had been awaiting an opportunity to arrest the commodore on the sedition charge but were unable to penetrate his heavily armed personal security detail – rarely less than 12-strong at any given time.
“I had earlier taken a brief of evidence to the DPP,” said Mr Hughes, “and it was agreed that there was a case to answer on a sedition charge.
“We wanted to arrest and charge Commodore Bainimarama but he was permanently covered by heavy security. I was very keen to avoid an armed confrontation between the police and the military. So we waited.”
As Prime Minister Qarase waited at Suva’s Nausori airport to board a New Zealand Air Force VIP jet to take him to the Peters-brokered talks in Wellington, he was surprised to be joined by Mr Hughes, who then explained that the arrest plan was unlikely to come to fruition. Mr Qarase was shocked.
The Fiji Police Commissioner boarded the flight and in Wellington he met a deputy secretary for foreign affairs but was again told the New Zealand Government’s position was that a political or diplomatic solution was preferred.
Aware that the police were ready to arrest him in Suva, Commodore Bainimarama had made it one of his many conditions for any settlement that the police commissioner would have to go.
Mr Hughes had, a week previously, sent his wife and sons to Australia having received credible information that they could be targeted by a military snatch squad.
In Wellington, he sought consular advice which was that he should not return to Fiji. He never did.
Mr Hughes also considered the safety of his own loyal officers who would try to protect him from military arrest.
The 2006 coup was the commodore’s fourth attempt.
In 2000 during the negotiations that ended the Speight hostage crisis he suggested that the military should run the country for up to 50 years but Speight – and the president – would have none of it. In 2004 and again in 2005 he planned to take over the Government but his senior officers refused to commit treason.
All were sacked.
By December 2006 it was now or never for Commodore Bainimarama. It was widely agreed amongst informed observers of the events of 2006 in Fiji, including the diplomatic community, that without Commodore Bainimarama the RFMF would be rudderless.
Had Commodore Bainimarama been arrested in New Zealand the Fiji military would have been unable and unwilling to proceed with the removal of the Qarase Government.
The then US ambassador to Fiji, Larry Dinger, summed it up when he told his masters in Washington in a cable leaked by WikiLeaks regarding the New Zealand arrest plan.
“Being passive with bullies only encourages them. An arrest abroad might be the only way to enforce a criminal charge and remove the Bainimarama thorn,” he reported.
Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff, who did not deal with the issue, could not confirm Mr Hughes’ account.
However, he could understand why no arrest was made, saying such a course of action would mean a country lost its credibility as a mediator for dealing with crises.
“I scarcely think you were going to lure a person here under false pretences only to arrest him. That would be seen as an ambush and bad faith and it wouldn’t have resolved the situation within Fiji. “
Russell Hunter is former editor in chief of the Fiji Sun and was deported from Fiji in 2008. Victor Lal is an Oxford-based academic researcher and is a former Fiji journalist and human rights activist.
The military was in de facto control of Fiji tonight after troops disarmed the police force and set up checkpoints on all roads in and out of Suva.
At a news conference, military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama stopped short of saying that he had staged the South Pacific nation’s fourth coup in less than two decades amid speculation that the members of the government might soon face arrest.
Commodore Bainimarama declined to say whether he was now running the government.
However, he called on the citizens of Fiji not to take “active resistance” against his forces, which were deployed at many points around the capital.
Earlier a large number of soldiers blocked Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase from meeting Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi at Government House.
Witnesses said Mr Qarase was escorted from the scene and taken home. There were no reports of the prime minister or members of his Cabinet being taken into custody.
Commodore Bainimarama told reporters the military had seized all weapons from police to avert the possibility of armed clashes between soldiers and police officers or other groups who oppose the army’s so-called “clean-up” operation against Mr Qarase’s government.
The commander also said that weapons had been taken from Mr Qarase’s bodyguards and as well the bodyguards of other ministers.
He refused to comment when asked exactly who was in charge of Fiji. He also failed to name an interim government as many had expected him to.
Earlier the Prime Minister and his wife, Leba, used a helicopter to get to and from an official engagement on the outskirts of Suva to dodge a roadblock set up by the Fiji Military Forces.
There were reports that a squad of 30 soldiers at the checkpoint had planned to stop the leader’s motorcade and take him into custody. However, this was thwarted by the helicopter ride.
Other troops have concentrated on neutralising and disarming the police force, which put up no resistance.
Soldiers surrounded Fiji’s elite police Tactical Response Division headquarters at Naisinu near Suva’s Nausori airport where they loaded weapons onto trucks. The munitions seizure was completed this afternoon.
Activity was also busy at Suva’s Queen Elizabeth Barracks with truckloads of soldiers moving in and out.
Another squad encircled an arsenal at Suva’s main police barracks in the neighbourhood of Nasova, not far from the President’s residence, as a police parade was under way.
The military raids were carried out without a shot being fired.
Witnesses said soldiers had been deployed oustide the Central Police Station in the Suva’s main business district. And, there were reports that the army had moved on other police installations in and around the city.
For months, the police force has been at odds with the army in the bitter war of words between Commodore Bainimarama and Mr Qarase.
The Tactical Response Division – responsible for quelling possible unrest – was set up by Fiji’s Australian Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes in a move that had been widely regarded as a way of establishing a civilian counterbalance to the military.
Police Commissioner Hughes left Fiji for Australia last week when death threats were made against his family after he openly criticised Commodore Bainimarama and the military.
In Canberra, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said Fiji’s military was trying to “slowly take control” as there was a split in its ranks over whether to stage a coup.
“They are now reaching a point, the military, where they are trying to persuade the Prime Minister to stand down without actually mounting a coup,” Mr Downer said.
“My guess is that within the military there is a fair bit of resistance to these tactics and quite a lot of resistance to a coup. There isn’t an inclination to mutiny against the commander, so it’s a torturously complicated situation.”
Mr Downer said he hoped the crisis would not escalate to endanger Australians in Fiji. Australia had vessels on standby to evacuate its citizens if it became necessary, he said.
Commodore Bainimarama installed Mr Qarase as Fiji’s interim leader after declaring martial law to put down Fiji’s last coup in 2000.
But the military chief now accuses the Prime Minister, re-elected earlier this year, of being too soft on the coup plotters and a subsequent failed but bloody mutiny in which Commodore Bainimarama was almost killed.
Black hawk down
30 nov 2006 An Australian serviceman is dead and another is missing off the coast of Fiji after an army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on HMAS Kanimbla and plunged into the sea yesterday afternoon.
A large air and sea search was under way last night in an effort to find the missing soldier.
The Black Hawk crashed while attempting to land on the Kanimbla and then sank rapidly into deep waters, Defence Force Chief Angus Houston told a late-night media conference.
The Black Hawk was carrying 10 Australian military personnel – including six SAS soldiers and four from the Townsville-based Fifth Aviation Regiment – and had been involved in practice exercises before it crashed.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said nine of the 10 people on board the helicopter were rescued quickly after the crash, but one of them later died on board the Kanimbla.
He could not give the exact cause of the death but indicated it was connected with being in the water too long.
Seven of the survivors were suffering minor injuries ranging from bruising to broken ribs. They were being treated last night on board the Kanimbla.
The injured, along with the dead soldier, will be evacuated aboard HMAS Newcastle to Noumea tomorrow. From there they will be flown to Australia.
The names of the dead soldier and his missing colleague had not been released last night.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said the accident occurred south of Fiji during relatively calm weather. He said the helicopter crashed into the deck of the Kanimbla and then went over the side of the ship into water 2000 to 3000 metres deep.
He said the Black Hawk was unlikely to be recovered. “My thoughts are it’s probably gone forever, given the depth of the water,” he said.
An investigation had been launched into the incident, the latest in a series of fatal mishaps involving Black Hawks.
The Defence chief declined to speculate on possible causes of the crash. “The cause of the accident is unknown. We have commenced a full investigation into this accident,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
Army personnel were scouring the waters off Fiji last night for the missing serviceman, using helicopters with infrared lights and inflatable dinghies. The search was expected to continue throughout the night.
“We are deeply saddened by this accident and the grief that its caused to some of our families and all those affected by the accident,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said. “We will still have Kanimbla in the location and we won’t give up searching for the individual until all hope is lost.”
Defence Minister Brendan Nelson flew back to Canberra from Rockhampton late yesterday after being informed of the accident. “The sympathies of all Australians go out to the families of those who’ve been directly affected by this accident,” Dr Nelson told journalists last night.
“We are extremely proud of these men and women who wear the uniform of the Australian Defence Force.
A new report has accused Australia of helping spark the December 2006 coup in Fiji by sending military forces to the country and has raised questions about possible plans for an invasion.
The report by the Fiji Human Rights Commission is into events leading up to the coup, with a particular focus on Australia’s deployment of ships to nearby waters, and an alleged contingent of Special Air Service soldiers who flew in on a commercial flight.
Fiji Human Rights Commission chair Dr Shaista Shameem told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that SAS troops were detected in the country by Fiji’s military forces, when commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama was threatening to take over the government from former prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.
Dr Shameem has stopped short of accusing Australia of planning to invade Fiji.
The Australian Defence Force confirmed at the time that Defence Supplementation Force staff were sent to assist the High Commission in Suva with communications, as part of what were described as routine precautionary measures.
Mr Qarase has denied seeking foreign military intervention in 2006 to protect his government.
Australia also maintains its navy presence was intended to help evacuate Australians if the coup became violent, but Dr Shameem told Radio Australia she does not believe that claim.
“The mixed messages that were being reported in the press in Brisbane, I think it was, but also in Canberra prior to the vessels being sent out – and in fact I think [Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd was the first person who introduced the idea of invoking or activating, as he called it, the Biketawa Agreement,” she said.
“He kept saying ‘let’s get on with it’, he said that phrase at least twice in two different interviews, and it was the same evening that one of the ships actually left for Fiji waters and it was joined later on by [two other ships].
“So there were a lot of things being said which were quite different from the official position that the Australian government was maintaining throughout, that it was in relation to the evacuation of Australian nationals.”
Dr Shameem counters Australian claims that the ships stayed outside Fijian waters.
“That’s what they said officially, that they were outside Fiji territory, and I think there was a lot of insistence on that point,” she said.
“But in fact when civilian aircraft were sent to find them, they were found inside Fiji waters.”
SAS in Fiji
Dr Shameem says the report also highlights the alleged presence of SAS forces in Fiji.
“They arrived quite clandestinely and had not gone through customs procedures,” she said.
“The Australians first denied the SAS forces were there, but the army here has its own intelligence sources, so they found them out,” she said.
“Then the Australian Defence Advisory and the Australian High Commission here denied the presence of those forces, so the RFMF (Republic of Fiji Military Forces) commander said that he would treat them as mercenaries.
“And it was at that point that the Chief of Defence in Australia rang him up and said, ‘No, they’re SAS forces, they’re mine,’ and they then withdrew to the Australian embassy.”
Dr Shameem says she has “no idea” why SAS forces might have been sent to Fiji.
“You need to ask the Australians that,” she said.
“But what we do know is that they had brought with them more than 400 kilograms of something in big sealed silver boxes, which (former foreign minister Alexander) Downer said was communication equipment, but the RFMF said were weapons and ammunition.”
Dr Shameem stopped short of explicitly accusing Australia of planning to invade Fiji.
“But I think the evidence is all there, and people can put a different light on that; what we are really looking at is the inconsistency in their statements,” she said.
Dr Shameem also hinted that the coup might not have taken place if Australian forces had not been in the region.
“The interesting question is, if the Australians hadn’t been there, and if this hadn’t been a threat, as the RFMF saw it, would December 5 have happened anyway? Or how did it instigate what happened on December 5?” she said.
The Australian Defence Forces (ADF) says it has no comments to make in relation to the Fiji Human Rights Commission’s report.
In a statement, the ADF says at no time did Australia plan to use military force to prevent or reverse a coup.
It says Australia’s deployment of naval forces in Fiji at the time of the coup was purely a precautionary measure in case Australians needed evacuation.
The ADF says Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston did call Commodore Bainimarama to strongly discourage him from deposing the Fiji government.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has also rejected the report and says Australian troops did nothing wrong.
“The best thing that could happen in Fiji is not spurious suggestions about Australian activity, but having an election, returning Fiji to democracy, respecting human rights and democracy and allowing a potentially very prosperous nation to get on with the job of providing for its citizens,” he said.
“It is certainly worth every Australian remembering why they are in the South West Pacific, they are doing what they always do on our behalf.”
22 september challenge to government
16 oct three week ultimatum (police commissioner Andrew hugesnamed as “foreign Authority”
Bainimarama leaves for Iraq
Prime minister Quarisi wants to fir bainimarama
26 nov Bainimarama leaves for nz (batisim of his grandaughter) but calls up 1000 reservists.
Andrew huges tries to have bainimarama arrested in new zealand
28 meeting between Bainimarama and Quarisi in new zealand
deadline ist december extended to 3rd december
Fiji’s military disarmed the country’s police force and threw up roadblocks around the capital today in what Australia believes is a coup by stealth.
bainimarama claims it is to protect police from any potential misunderstanding
The Pacific nation’s embattled Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was holed up at his home in the capital, Suva, tonight after armed soldiers stopped him from trying to see the president.
Qarase’s supporters have questioned how loyal the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo is to the government after he continued to hold talks with Commodore Frank Bainimarama amid the military chief’s escalating threats to oust the government.
Truckloads of heavily armed soldiers moved on two police compounds in and around Suva today and seized the weapons of Fiji’s only armed police unit.
In a brief press conference, Bainimarama said the police arsenal was seized to prevent “dissidents” from using them against his soldiers.
“We would not want to see a situation whereby the police and the military are opposed in an armed confrontation,” he said from Suva’s main Queen Elizabeth II Barracks.
But he refused to say whether he had seized control of the country.
“I don’t have any comments right now,” he said when pressed on the issue, and quickly left the press conference.
Troops in battle gear fanned out across Suva this afternoon, establishing a network of roadblocks around the city and cutting off several roads into the city.
Armed soldiers were tonight outside the presidential palace and on an access road that leads to the homes of Bainimarama, Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, and the secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum.
In a game of cat and mouse, Qarase was today forced to fly back to Suva from a provincial centre to avoid a military roadblock that some feared had been set up to arrest him.
Qarase had spent the morning in talks with the provincial council of Naitasiri – which is a strong supporter of the prime minister’s SDL party.
Soon after landing back in Suva, the premier tried to see the president but when soldiers turned him away he retreated to his home, where police were stationed inside the grounds. There was no sign of any soldiers there.
Australia today said it feared the military was carrying out a stealthy power grab, moving slowly to take control without mounting a dramatic coup like the ones that wracked the country in 2000 and 1987.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer referred to a split in the Fiji military’s ranks and resistance in some sectors to the tactics being pursued by Bainimarama.
“They are now reaching a point, the military, where they are trying to persuade the prime minister to stand down without actually mounting a coup,” he told ABC radio.
“My guess is that within the military there is a fair bit of resistance to these tactics and quite a lot of resistance to a coup.
“There isn’t an inclination to mutiny against the commander, so it’s a torturously complicated situation.”
Despite the tensions, Mr Downer said there were no problems for Australians in Fiji.
“We are hopeful the situation won’t reach a point where they would be endangered,” he said, adding that Australian vessels remained on standby off Fiji’s coast if a full-scale evacuation was necessary.
Earlier in the day, Land Forces commandeer Pita Driti – the Fiji military’s third in command – promised police would get their weapons back once Bainimarama’s promised “clean-up campaign” against the government was complete.
But Fiji’s acting police commissioner Moses Driver said the soldiers involved in the seizure from the police Tactical Response Unit (TRU) headquarters outside Suva had committed a crime and would be pursued.
“The removal of police arms from the armoury … by the RFMF (Republic of Fiji Military Forces) without our approval early this afternoon was unlawful and unnecessary,” Driver told reporters.
He said police had agreed in good faith to allow troops to inspect police weapons “to show that the Fiji police is not an armed threat to the commander or the RFMF”.
“The Fiji police has always maintained that the weapons contained at the police armoury are not of any direct threat or consequence to the far greater firepower kept by the military,” he said.
“The act of confiscating police arms is therefore unreasonable, unwarranted and unlawful.”
Streets in Suva were quiet today with many Fijians staying at home, despite the military’s assurances that residents have nothing to fear.
Bainimarama set a deadline of midday last Friday for the government to bow to a set of demands which included scrapping controversial legislation and ending a police investigation into possible sedition charges against him.
He reiterated in a television interview yesterday that if Qarase did not want to resign, “we will look for ways to obtain his resignation”.
Among the military’s demands were for the police Tactical Response Unit to be disbanded on the grounds that only the armed forces should carry arms.
Qarase has remained defiant and has said he will call an emergency cabinet meeting tomorrow to discuss the latest developments in a crisis that could result in Fiji’s fourth coup in 20 years.
6 december coup completed in all but name
Bainimarama dismissed a number of public servants, at least some of whom refused to cooperate with his regime, including: President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes, Acting Police Commissioner Moses Driver, Assistant Police Commissioner Kevueli Bulamainaivalu, Public Service Commission chairman Stuart Huggett and chief executive Anare Jale, Solicitor General Nainendra Nand, Prime Minister’s Office chief executive Jioji Kotobalavu, and the Supervisor of Elections Semesa Karavaki.
5 jan bainimaama appointed interim prime minister
Fijian soldiers will soon leave for New Caledonia as part of an exchange training programme with the French army.
The two-year mutual military agreement was signed between the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and the French Army last year.
RFMF Land Force Commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho said the reconnaissance process would be completed before they would get through the final preparatory phase.
“There are reconnaissance elements that have arrived to look at the exercise areas that they will be exercising in. They are coming to do exercises in Fiji and we will be sending a platoon across to New Caledonia for training also,” Colonel Qiliho said.
“The whole spectrum of jungle warfare, they will be trained in, to experience our tough terrain here in Fiji and for us to also experience their terrain that they have to offer us. It is also an exchange of trainings that the skills they have we can gain and for them to gain from what we have. So it is a mutual exchange programme.”
The French Deputy Head of Mission Jules Irrmann said the training would mutually benefit both the countries.
“We had a trade mission that came last week to check all the conditions and to prepare this next mission but we have no precise timing as to when they will come down, however it should not be that late,” Mr Irrman said.
The French Navy has also been in Fiji to assist the Fiji Navy in maritime surveillance duty.
Fijian reaction to australia’s invasion plan
Smugler, The headline is pure fact. Australia has a plan to invade Fiji. So how you can argue a sensationalist beat-up is beyond me. However much you may be concerned that it inflames “the paranoia of the dictator”, that is neither here nor there. It happened.
“Australia’s Fiji Invasion Plan” is a sad reflection of the following:
1/ There is no confidence in Australia that the Fiji military and police are capable of maintaining public order. Yet the paradox is that they’ve been capable of pacifying an entire population after seizing power in a coup.
2/ There is so little trust and confidence in the relationship generally that armed intervention has become an option. This would see Australian troops fighting and killing Fijian troops and the same thing happening in reverse.
3/ There is an element of supreme arrogance in Canberra that an invasion of Fiji is even a viable option. Fijian troops are prized by the British for front line action in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re also put into front-line positions by the United Nations. They have a proud history of guerilla warfare in the most arduous conditions in Bougainville, the Solomons and Malaya. They know their own country even better, are fiercely patriotic and will fight.
4/The RFMF is not to be trifled with and any country which takes them on better be prepared for the political fallout of a steady procession of body bags emerging from Fiji. Australia also needs to consider the political fallout of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians being dismayed and disgusted that a country they love is subjected to attack.
5/There’s a supreme irony in Australia opposing the one force in Fiji – the RFMF – that was capable of arresting the country’s steady decline into racial inequality – the supremacy of one race over the others. It deserved understanding and support, not approbation and punishment. As it stands, it is because of the RFMF that Fiji will hopefully have – after 2014 – a purer democracy and more equality for all its citizens.
6/ Australia could have been part of that process. It chose not to be and that is its sovereign right. But to plan an invasion of a country with which it has had always had close ties displays an extraordinary lack of confidence in the relationship and, yes, a betrayal. People will argue, “oh, but it’s just a contingency plan”. Where’s the contingency plan for New Zealand? No Australian visitor has ever been targeted in any of the coups since 1987 and there is simply no reason for formulating such a plan.
Even if there was a coup against Bainimarama and resulting civil disturbances, Australia and Australians would not be part of the conflict and all the evidence indicates that they would be protected.
7/ This invasion plan says a lot more about the minds of Australian politicians and military planners than it says about any Fijian. They evidently regard Fiji and its people with suspicion and, in this case, hostility. Yet the experience of ordinary Australians is that Fijians will always look after them in Fiji, often to the detriment of themselves. We saw repeated instances in the recent floods of Australian visitors expressing deep appreciation for the way in which ordinary people helped them when they were left with nothing. They didn’t rob them or try to gain an advantage, they helped them. Why? Because most Fijians are decent, caring people who deserve Australia’s support, not to have their country subjected to an invasion plan.
This is the ultimate tragedy of the disclosure of this portion of the white paper – the profound lack of trust in Canberra when none is deserved. That is one thing. Put it into effect and Australia will surely rue the day that any of its troops set foot in Fiji.
More than 12 kilograms of cocaine has been found on a remote Fijian island accessible only by boat.
It’s the same island where earlier in July, 40kg of cocaine was also found.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) helped Fijian authorities retrieve the latest haul.
Lieutenant Benjamin Flight, the Commanding Officer of Royal New Zealand Navy inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo, said the ship’s crew members recovered the illicit drugs from an island that forms part of Fiji’s Lau group, following a request from Fiji Revenue and Customs Service.
HMNZS Taupo, which is in Fiji conducting combined maritime patrols with the Republic of Fiji Navy and other Fiji enforcement agencies, brought the cocaine cache to the Fijian capital of Suva early on Friday.
The Fiji Police Force tested the retrieved packages and confirmed that they contained cocaine.
After the earlier cocaine haul, Fiji Village reported Visvanath Das, the chief executive officer of the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service, commended those who alerted authorities to the drugs.
The people of the island requested the island’s name not be revealed for safety reasons, it was reported.
Das said the latest operation sent a clear message.
“Fiji authorities are determined to protect our country’s borders and will not allow it to be used as a transit or a destination for illegal drugs. Surveillance in coastal communities and seas is an ongoing challenge for Customs. However, with the assistance and cooperation from island communities, we can protect our borders from illicit trade.”
NZDF has been helping Fiji authorities enforce regulations for inshore fishing, protect fishery resources and police the South Pacific country’s borders.
It’s the second consecutive year the NZDF has deployed an inshore patrol vessel to help Fiji patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone of over 1.2 million square kilometres.
Summary ——– 1. (C) The Fiji Police Force stood in the forefront of opposition to the plans of RFMF Commander Frank Bainimarama to overthrow the lawfully elected government of Fiji. Now that the coup has taken place, remaining senior officers are forced to work with the new military government and the commissioner it appointed. The police face the challenge of fighting a rising crime rate with reduced capacity, while trying to avoid becoming a political tool of the military. Early indications are that crime has not risen noticeably in post-coup Fiji and that the police have been successful in maintaining an appearance of independence. However, a slowing economy, the military’s decision to disarm the police, and the possibility that more pre-coup senior officers will be let go could make a bad situation worse. The New Order ————- 2. (C) The Fiji police have been led for the last three years by Commissioner Andrew Hughes. Hughes is an active duty senior Australian Federal Policeman who was seconded to Fiji in 2003 to serve a five-year contract. Hughes has worked hard and successfully to reform and modernize the police. With the backing of his senior officers, Hughes attempted to bring criminal charges against the military’s senior officers in the lead-up to the coup. Due to threats by the military against he and his family, Hughes left Fiji a week before the coup. His Deputy, Moses Driver, and Assistant Commissioner for Crime Kevueli Bulamainaivalu were sacked immediately after the coup. Driver had been very vocal in his opposition to military actions and called the military’s post-coup claims that the police and military were working together “lies.” Bulamainaivalu led the police investigation of sedition charges against the military’s senior officers. 3. (C) On December 6, Bainimarama appointed a retired director of the Criminal Investigative Division, Jimmy Koroi, to be the new Police Commissioner. Sada Nand, the currently serving Assistant Commissioner for Crime, was moved up to be the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Josia Rasiga, the current Director of Operations for the Criminal Investigative Division, was moved up to be the Assistant Commissioner for Crime. Bainimarama appointed Bernard Daveta, former head of the Special Branch Division, to a previously defunct position entitled “Chief of Staff.” This position fits between the four Assistant Commissioners and the Deputy Commissioner position. All other senior officers kept their current positions. Leadership in Transition ———————— 4. (C) Assistant Commissioner for Operations Samuela Matakibau told RSO that Koroi has been out of the force for over twenty years and does not understand the reforms and force structures put in place by Hughes. Matakibau fears the reforming spirit Hughes instilled in his officers may be lost under Koroi. Koroi does not appear to be confident in his abilities and tends to put off making substantive decisions, said Matakibau. Perhaps reflecting the fact that Koroi is not up to the task, the military has named a replacement Commissioner, Romanu Tikotokoca. Tikotokoca has not yet formally accepted the job. According to Matakibau, Tikotokoca has been in touch with Hughes and Driver in Australia. Both advised him to wait until the Great Council of Chiefs named (or reaffirmed) the new president before accepting the Commissioner’s job, thereby avoiding the stigma of having been appointed by the Commander. The police rank and file appreciate the fact that Hughes and Driver seem to support Tikotikoca’s appointment, said Matakibau. 5. (C) Matakibau told RSO that a number of senior officers are still in contact with Hughes and Driver in Australia. Matakibau says that Driver advised him to stay in his current position and not to accept any promotions or to appear to benefit from the leadership shakeup. This could also help Matakibau avoid possible visa sanctions from New Zealand, Australia and the United States, Driver said. The Director of Uniformed Operations is reportedly also in communication with Driver and was able to confirm to the press that Driver had been offered a job with the Australian Federal Police (he SUVA 00000586 002 OF 003 later denied the report). Military “Roughing Up” Dissidents ——————————— 6. (C) Since the appointment of the new Commissioner, the police have resisted any notion that they are a tool of the military. According to RSO police contacts, the military has not interfered with the police’s ability to act against common crime. The problems have been when members of the military commit crimes. Since the coup, several people who opposed the military takeover have been taken against their will to the military barracks for a “meeting” with senior officers. These meetings can end with a simple verbal warning or at the other extreme a threat with a pistol to the head. 7. (C) Matakibau told RSO that in the Western District of Fiji, there have been several incident of soldiers picking up people who speak out against the coup and roughing them up in cane fields. Apparently two people have been checked into hospitals after these assaults. While the general public understands that there is nothing the police can do about the situation, he said, it is galling to the police to not be able to stop these assaults. Police Officers Intimidated Too ——————————- 8. (C) Even currently serving senior police officers are not immune from the military pickups. On Saturday night December 16, 2006, Matakibau was asleep in his home when his son woke him to tell him that armed military officers were outside his house. They put him in the back of a military truck and took him to the military’s strategic headquarters. At strategic headquarters, two senior military officers accused Matakibau of not cooperating with the military government and of reducing street patrols. Matakibau responded that district commanders are in charge of staffing levels and that he only stepped in if he noticed gaps in coverage. Matakibau said he told the officers that the public would soon become tired of the military’s abuses of power. They need to stop the illegal detentions or the people would turn against them. According to Matakibau, later that evening one of the officers called to apologize for the detention. No Post-Coup Crime Rest Yet ————————— 9. (SBU) In recent years, Fiji has experienced a major rise in crime. Suva was already rated a high crime post before 2005 when overall crime in Fiji rose 15% over the 2004 level. From January to June 2006 crime rose an additional 3% over the same period in 2005. Home invasion-type burglaries are becoming common with criminal groups ranging from two to ten breaking though grills and solid core doors. Even before the military takeover the police had severe manpower and transportation shortages. The criminal element in Fiji knows that the police are unable to respond in a timely manner to crimes. Criminals know that the small police posts in the residential areas usually have only one officer. Home-invasion burglaries have occurred within a hundred yards of small police posts. 10. (C) Since the coup took place, there has been a general perception in the public that crime has decreased. Military checkpoints may have impeded the movement of criminals somewhat, and there have been fewer people out in the streets at night, especially in groups. This drop in crime, however, is likely to be a short-lived phenomenon. The biggest contributor to crime in the medium- to long-term will be the inevitable slow down of the economy caused by the military takeover. Due to the coup-related tourism slowdown, hotels and tour operators have been forced to cut staff and reduce costs. Foreign sanctions imposed on Fiji because of the coup will also have an effect. 11. (C) To counter the rise in crime over the past two years, the police had been on a major hiring drive. With the economy likely to shrink, it will be difficult to keep the hiring at the level the police need to meet the criminal threat. Transportation has always been a major problem for the force. Last year Australia donated 23 police cars to Fiji. It is doubtful that the police will receive any new donated vehicles while the military government is in power. The police will also be cut off from training opportunities with developed countries and the ability to work with regional police organizations. The Pacific Island Chiefs of Police (PICP) has already suspended Fiji from taking part in SUVA 00000586 003 OF 003 any of its activities. This is the first time the PICP has suspended a country in the 35 years of the organization. 12. (SBU) One of the biggest blows to the effectiveness of the police was the disarming of the Police Tactical Response Unit (PTR). The unit was formed by Hughes as an elite unit that could respond to violent criminal incidents. The day before the coup, the military went to the PTR barracks and confiscated the unit’s weapons. The police are now completely unarmed and have lost much of their already limited ability to deter crime. Comment ——- 13. (C) Due to the military take-over the police are in a tough position. They feel a strong duty to the people of Fiji to carry on with their law enforcement mission, but they are under a military leadership that routinely breaks the laws the police are charged with enforcing. There is every indication that the police will continue to attempt to keep as independent as possible from their military-appointed leadership. This may work as long as the pre-coup senior officers stay in the majority of the leadership positions. If the military were to purge those officers, then the police would be seen as merely an extension of the military. DINGER
French frigate Vendémiaire
The French wanted to destroy the drug warehouse on the island. it was the distribution centre for the sough pacific and
fabienne used the tourist yacht to make a preliminary survey and saw suppies being landed provig there was something on the island.
24 hours later threatened with arrest uses diplomatic immunity.
Four Zodiacs arrive it is a mess revolt is imminent but there are members of the police force who want to escape.
They then hired a yacht to make further investigations. Fabienne’s friend has a monocular thermal imager. They sail rond the island and establish that there are hot spots. they are then able to sail closer and establish the position of the storage facility. buried into the cliff face.
members of fiji police arrive. The police unit had been shut down and it’s weapons confiscated.
We are the only six people not confined to barracks but we will give authenticity for what you are about to do.
We will then remove ourselves to our parent ship the Vendémiaire
In fact the facility defends itself and Fabienne calls in air support to destroy the facility.