Bainimarama is under more pressure at home and abroad than at any time since he took control of Fiji in December 2006.
At home he has been deserted by Mahendra Chaudhry, a former Labour prime minister who welcomed his coup and served until August 2008 as his Finance Minister. Chaudhry, who has a strong following among Fiji Indians, has denounced him as autocratic and called for early elections. Support for Bainimarama among the majority population of indigenous Fijians, weak in the first place, is now weaker than ever as prices rise in the wake of the recent devaluation of the Fiji dollar, the economy slumps and jobs are lost.
Abroad he has lost UN support for the participation of Fijians in new UN peacekeeping missions. Those missions were responsible for expanding the troop strength of the Fiji Military Forces in the first place, and offered the overseas experience that makes it such a formidable holder of political power in Fiji today. Above all, UN peacekeeping has given Fiji’s soldiers good money in a country where it is hard to find.
Now Fiji has become the first Pacific country to be expelled from the Pacific Islands Forum. The Forum, which Fiji helped to found in 1971, brings together the 16 independent and self-governing states of the Pacific Islands and is the leading regional organization. Forum leaders threatened Fiji with expulsion if Bainimarama did not set a date for elections by May 1, 2009, and hold them by the end of the year. Earlier coup regimes in Fiji have easily survived expulsions from organisations such as the Commonwealth, but this action is an unprecedented regional rebuff, which, added to Fiji’s other troubles, is likely to further undermine domestic support for the country’s self-appointed prime minister.
This is from an article by Stewart Firth of ANU