Fiji. In April, the slumbering Melanesian nationalist movement Taukei was revived. The leader of the movement accused Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian, of pursuing an anti-Fijian policy. in land issues.
After a time of coup dire, Chaudhry’s government was ousted on its anniversary on May 19. George Speight, dismissed as chairman of a state corporate board, led a group of armed men who occupied Parliament and took Chaudhry and 30 other hostages, among them several ministers. President Kamisese Mara condemned the coup and declared a state of emergency when Speight supporters ran wild and abused Indians and looted and burned Indian-owned stores in the capital Suva.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Fiji. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
Speight explained that he had repatriated Fiji on behalf of the indigenous Melanesian population, and said he had repealed the 1997 constitution, which gave political rights to the country’s ethnic Indians. The Melanesians make up about 51% of the country’s residents, compared to about 44% for the Indians, which however dominate the business community. Just before the coup, there had been conflict over the renewal of Indian landowners’ leases.
The president, the influential chief council and the military tried in vain to negotiate a swift resolution of the crisis. Speight threatened to kill hostages if the military intervened. President Mara resigned and military commander Frank Bainimarama introduced a law of war with curfews. However, from the countryside, rapes, arson and looting were reported against indigenous peasant families.
In July, Bainimarama appointed a civil interim government led by banker Laisenia Qarase. The ministerial list was rejected by Speight, who, however, agreed to release the hostage in exchange for complete amnesty for himself and his supporters and the abolition of the 1997 constitution, which allowed Chaudhry to be elected. The drama dissolved after eight weeks. Everyone in the hostage was unharmed, but several casualties had been required in the shooting between security forces and Speight supporters.
The Chief Council responded to the release by appointing Speight’s candidate Ratu Josefa Iloilo as president. He appointed a government led by Qarase, which had the support of the military. The list of ministers was almost identical to the one Speight had rejected. However, no one in that government was Indian.
While the hostage crisis was going on in the capital, Speight’s supporters took control of some police stations and a military base in the country. The continued lawlessness and the threat of sanctions from the outside world caused the military to cancel the amnesty agreement with Speight. He was arrested, and several hundred of his followers were eventually arrested. Prosecution was brought against the coup leader and his closest associates for treason or treason-like crimes.
In September, Prime Minister Qarase said at the UN that he intended to restore democracy within two years by drafting a new constitution and preparing for a new election.
In November, a group of militants mutated and took control of the Suva military headquarters. However, government-loyal troops could quickly defeat the uprising. The same month, the Supreme Court declared that the deposed Chaudhry’s ministry was still the country’s legal government. According to the court, Qarase’s interim government was in violation of the Constitution, but it remained at the same time as the verdict was appealed.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Fiji in 2000 was 810,895, ranking number 157 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.900% yearly, and the population density was 44.3900 people per km2.