PUBLIC unrest is growing in Fiji as economic woes intensify in the troubled Pacific Island nation.
Fiji has been isolated by sanctions imposed after Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s 2006 coup.
Unnamed sources in the capital Suva told The Australian ordinary Fijians were becoming “increasingly disenchanted” at the nation’s economic isolation and “failed promises” of the country’s coup leaders.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is playing down rumours of another coup. Officials confirm “background noise” linked to rising public unease over the past two months.
However, its travel advice to Fiji remains unchanged at the second lowest safety setting — to “exercise caution” due to the unresolved political situation.
One Fijian insider who asked not to be named said: “It’s difficult to establish what’s fact from fiction right now — coup rumours have been sweeping around here for the last month or so.
“I think we’re going to see a shift soon — something for the better — maybe a move (by Bainimarama) to be more politically inclusive.”
The Australian National University’s Fiji expert, Brij Lal said “deepening dissatisfaction” was taking hold across Fiji.
In the absence of a free media in Fiji, “gossip and rumour” were flourishing, Professor Lal said.
Splits also appear to be emerging in the ranks of the country’s military.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tevita Mara — the commander of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, the country’s biggest army formation — has been ordered on leave pending a corruption investigation.
More than 40 per cent of Fiji’s 800,000 population now lives below the poverty line, Professor Lal said.