Fiji military to assist police with security after purported threats against Indo-Fijians

Stephen Wright
Fiji military to assist police with security after purported threats against Indo-Fijians Workers and supporters of Fiji’s People's Alliance Party celebrate after securing the support of a minor party to form a new government, in Suva, Dec. 20, 2022.
Saeed Khan/AFP

Updated at 11:09 p.m. ET ON 12-21-2022

Fiji’s military will help maintain security in response to what police said were threats against minority groups following an election in the Pacific island country that produced a defeat for the ruling party. 

Three opposition parties earlier this week agreed to form a coalition government after Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s ruling Fiji First party failed to secure an outright majority in the Dec. 14 election. Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, has not conceded defeat. 

The decision to deploy the military was made at a meeting between Bainimarama, Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho, Military Commander Jone Kalouniwai and Minister for Defense, National Security and Policing Inia Seruiratu, according to a police statement.

“It’s a consensus decision based on​ official reports received, intelligence and information gathered​​ and​ the​ ​evaluation of the current security landscape where minority groups continue to be targeted and information of planned civil unrest​ received,” Qiliho said.

Sitiveni Rabuka, leader of the People’s Alliance Party, which is the largest party in the three-party coalition, said the police commissioner’s reports of violent incidents are disturbing and Fijians should respect the rule of law. 

He said his coalition “condemns any attempt to derail the peaceful democratic process through violent acts or any acts of hooliganism.”

Tess Newton Cain, a Pacific expert at Griffith Asia Institute, said the police’s announcement was a “significant and concerning development.”

“We need to hear from the ComPol [Commissioner of Police] where the evidence is to support this move,” she said on Twitter.

Qiliho’s statement said police continue to lead overall security operations and will be assisted by army and navy personnel. 

It didn’t give details of the purported threats but said people were living in fear following recent political developments.

Police on Wednesday said there had been “stoning incidents” that targeted the homes and businesses of Indian Fijians but didn’t give details. 

Fiji has had four coups since independence in 1970, partly a legacy of British colonial policies that restricted the economic activities of indigenous Fijians while bringing tens of thousands of indentured laborers from India in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The first two coups in 1987 were led by Rabuka, an indigenous Fijian nationalist, and highlighted the divisions that had developed in Fiji over decades. 

The coups followed the election defeat of a predominantly indigenous Fijian political party and are remembered as a retributive and traumatic period by many Indian Fijians.

Qiliho’s statement said the police and military will collaborate “to ensure the safety and security of all Fijians as we see through the current political process.”

This story has been updated to include comments by People’s Alliance Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.