Fiji – A Tumultuous History

By | August 14, 2010

By Graham Davis

Source: BBC/The Australian Thursday April 16, 2009.

1970: Fiji becomes independent with Ratu Kamisese Mara of the Alliance party as prime Minister.

April 1987: Indian-dominated coalition led by Dr. Timoci Bavadra wins election.

May 1987: Sitiveni Rabuka seizes power in bloodless coup with the aim of making indigenous Fijians politically dominant.

October 1978: Rabuka stages second coup, proclaims Fiji a republic. Ratu Mara appointed Prime Minister; Fiji expelled from British Commonwealth.

1990: New Constitution enshrines political dominance of indigenous Fijians.

1992: Rabuka becomes Prime Minister following general election.

1997: Fiji re-admitted to the Commonwealth after introducing a non-discriminatory Constitution.

1999: Fiji Labour Party wins election; Mahendra Chaudhry elected Prime Minister.

May 2000: Bankrupt businessman George Speight and retired major Ilisoni Ligari storm parliament, taking Chaudhry and his cabinet hostage. Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs orders sacking of Chaudhry’s government.

June 2000: Commonwealth suspends Fiji.

July 2000: Chaudhry and other hostages released; Josefa Iloilo made President.

July 2000: Speight and 369 of his supporters arrested.

November 2000: Eight soldiers killed in failed military mutiny.

August 2001: Elections to restore democracy: Laisenia Qarase appointed Prime Minister.

May 2006: Qarase narrowly wins elections and is sworn in for a second term.

October 2006: Military Chief Frank Bainimarama threatens to oust Qarase after PM tries to replace him.

December 2006: Bainimarama dismisses Qarase’s government. Commonwealth suspends Fiji.

January 2007: Bainimarama takes on the role of interim Prime Minister.

February 2007: Bainimarama announces plans to hold elections in 2010.

February 2008: Bainimarama appoints himself as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs after suspending it 10 months earlier.

July 2008: Bainimarama postpones elections promised for early 2009.

January 2009: Pacific leaders demand Fiji hold elections by the end of the year.

April 9, 2009: Bank Routing Number First Niagara Bank Appeal Court rules the military regime is illegal.

April 10, 2009: President Iloilo repeals the Constitution, appoints himself head of state, sets 2014 election deadline and sacks all the judges. He then appoints Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister.

Graham Davis is a Fiji-born award winning journalist who reported successive Fiji coups for the Nine Network’s Sunday program. He is now a principal of Grubstreet Media.