Melanesia abandons pariah of Pacific
Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor
From: The Australian July 14, 201
FIJI’S regime has virtually lost all support.
THE Fiji military regime of Frank Bainimarama has just suffered the most severe dent to its status this year.
It appears that the quixotic coup leader has been abandoned by some of his last international supporters, with the postponement of the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ meeting, which was scheduled to be held in Fiji next week.
The timing could not have been worse – on the eve of the annual leaders’ summit in Port Vila, Vanuatu, of the Pacific Islands Forum, from which Fiji was suspended last year, but to which it has kept hoping its regional friends would restore it.
Flailing against this blow, the Suva regime has kicked out yet another Australian diplomat, this time acting high commissioner Sarah Roberts.
Bainimarama has found it impossible to accept the message first from the forum and now from the MSG that it is not just Australia and to a lesser extent New Zealand that have conspired as Great and Lesser Satans to confound him internationally, but that his regime is viewed as unacceptable virtually everywhere, even in fellow Melanesian countries.
His strategy after being dumped from the forum was to leverage Fiji’s position as a continuing member of the MSG – with Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the pro-Kanak party of New Caledonia – to create a new Pacific grouping excluding Australia and New Zealand.