[Snippets with Croz Walsh's blog comments on Jennifer Blake's article in the Jakarta Globe.]
Bainimarama promised change and led a bloodless coup with much popular support. But his initial popularity has faded because he has failed to deliver on his promises. The embattled interim government is now making dangerous moves to maintain order. The diplomatic snub (of Forum meetings) foolishly reinforces Fiji’s isolationist position ... [It is difficult to estimate his support when the media, some NGOs, and those who stand to lose from electoral reform are so vocal. Both sides, of course, will claim majority support.]
His alleged 'broken promises'
>> Commitments to media freedom broken. [Hastened perhaps by irresponsible reporting].
>> He promised to reinvigorate the economy, yet under his leadership, the national GDP has contracted by 3.1 percent. [Many factors at work. Most world economies contracting.]
>> He pledged to unify the people, but his methods have created nothing but division. His perceived pro-Indian policies have done nothing to heal the bitter rifts that span its history. [At least, he's trying. Jennifer, I note your comment that --
"Fiji stumbled on the road to democracy — a fall brought on partly by his former prime minister’s unabashed distaste for the “foreign flower” and its flawed ideology. Qarase’s government was riddled with corruption, blatantly racist and fatally short-sighted."
[Is it not possible that the "pro-Indian" tag is being promoted by the pro-Qarase faction?]
>> Perhaps unintentionally, he has sidelined the powerful Fijian nationalist voice, a gamble that could cost him his leadership, provide grounds for a future coup or justify a violent backlash.
[You could well be right but the "sidelining" of extreme nationalists and the chiefly elite was a reason for the coup. I hope for Fiji's sake that your prediction is wrong.]
>> Bainimarama is being backed into a corner, facing attacks from the national press, the regional and international community, and a potential massive and humiliating loss at the polls should he call elections this year. The likelihood is he will soon face a challenge from the Fijian nationalists, perhaps presenting itself in the form of a coup — Fiji’s fifth in 22 years
[Unfortunately, being backed into a corner makes your prediction more likely.]
>> Bainimarama needs to act quickly in order to prevent another violent grasp for power, which would devastate the Fijian economy and decimate any hopes for democracy in the near future.
[Yes, but how, without checking the media and acting against opponents, for which you, among others, criticise him.]
>> This brief "leftist" venture might soon see an enormous pendulum swing to the "right". [The Fiji situation does not fit neatly into "left" and "right", but a counter-coup would certainly undo the good that the interim government has achieved and give new strength to the anti-democratic forces of intolerant ethno-nationalism and religious fundamentalism.]
Croz Walsh's blog