Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cap badge of the Republic of Fiji Military ForcesImage via Wikipedia
High Noon in the Pacific...

by Peter Petterson

A diplomatic incident has occured between the two Pacific Island nations of Fiji and Tonga.

Fiji claims a Tongan patrol craft entered Fijian waters and spirited away political fugitive, Colonel Tevita Mara, the son of the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the founding prime minister and a former President of Fiji.

Colonel Tevita Uluilakeba Mara is the recent commander of the Third Fiji Infantry Regiment. He and land force commander,  Colonel Pita Diriti were arrested a week ago and charged with organising a mutiny to overthrow the dictator of Fiji, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who is also the self-appointed prime minister of Fiji who refuses democratic elections in the island state. Bainimarama led a coup against the former democratically elected government in 2006. He was head of the Fijian armed forces at that time.

The Tongan Navy allegedly sent a mission of "rescue" into Fijian waters with a patrol boat spiriting the Fijian army officer to Tonga and protection by  King George Tupou  there. Bainimarama demands that Tonga hands Colonel back to Fijian authorites. Colonel Mara also has family ties in Tonga as well. It could prove to be a really delicate situation.

Tonga claims it rescued Colonel Mara in international waters, despite Fijian claims to the contrary. Fiji claims Tonga has breached Fijian sovereignty. Earlier this year Tonga claims the Fijian Navy sent a vessel to the remote and disputed Minerva Atoll (between Tonga and New Zealand)  and  blew up navigation lights there.

Neither New Zealand or Australia want to become involved in the dispute. They do not wish to interfere in the domestic affairs of either country. But it is possible that at some future stage they could be asked to assist. The Tongan King approved the mission by telephone from Europe where he is visiting at present. The New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZ Otago is presently in port in Tonga on  totally unrelated business. Fiji appears to have a standing army that is not in proportion to its population. It could actually be closer in numbers to the permanent New Zealand combined defence forces. Fiji also has a police force of significant numberical strength.

There are claims that Fijian dictator, Commodore Frank Bainimarama's future is at risk, and this  diplomatic crisis could well end his illegal regime with another coup by the armed forces  removing him from power. Fiji's military appointed Attorney-General, Aiyaz Khayum  has been suggested as being a power-broker behind the unwell, and morally and intellectually weakened Commodore Bainimarama, who is allegedly now just a hand-puppet to shadowy forces behind the regime. These two Fijian leaders may well go head to head in the near future, and the loser could well be Bainimarama himself.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Multibrand said...

Hi Peter,
Dictators tend to end their powers tragically.

Dictation said...

I suppose Abraham Lincoln, John. F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jnr. were dictators, if one were to use Multibrand's faulty logic!

Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

Not only dictators can lose their lives tragically, Harry.