Fiji’s coup culture: Rediscovering a voice at the ballot box
Commentary: The second Fiji General Election in 12 years, since the fourth coup in 2006, took place on 14 November 2018, and once again the key players were the three parties that gained seats in Parliament in the 2014 election. The three parties: FijiFirst, the incumbent government led by the 2006 coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama; the preeminent opposition, Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), whose leader was the instigator of the first two coups, Sitiveni Rabuka; and the National Federation Party (NFP) which was led by former University of the South Pacific economics academic Professor Biman Prasad. The 2018 election was widely seen as another sign of progress for Fiji’s fragile democracy and both the significant protagonists were former military commanders and coup leaders seemingly committed to democracy. The media remained cowed, a legacy of the 2010 Media Industry Development Decree (MIDD, 2010), giving rise to using other forms of media such as social media platforms, with Facebook being the most popular. This commentary reflects on the experience of a journalist on a postgraduate assignment to report on the 2018 election.
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