Fiji’s military regime tightens hold on power

April 17th, 2009 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, April 17 (DPA) Fiji’s military regime strengthened its grip on power Friday with the swearing-in of the interim indigenous affairs minister and former military forces commander as vice president, said news reports from the capital Suva.
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau became the first vice president since Fiji’s 2006 military coup.

The regime also clamped down on the media, warning foreign journalists in the island nation not to write negative stories.

Fiji’s military rulers told the journalists to “behave” and adopt what it called “the journalism of hope”, or in other words to file only positive stories, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported. The regime has also threatened to impose new censorship regulations if journalists did not cooperate.

All of Fiji’s judges were sacked last week after three Australian judges sitting as the Court of Appeal ruled that the military government of Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in the December 2006 coup, was illegal.

In response to the ruling, the regime revoked the constitution and emergency powers were declared, including stringent censorship forbidding criticism of the government.

Bainimarama has posted censors in the offices of newspapers and radio and television stations, ordered foreign journalists out of the country and shut down ABC’s radio transmitters.

Reports said internet cafes in Suva have been ordered to close pending registration by the military government even as Fijian bloggers elsewhere launched an online tirade against the military regime.

The regime’s actions have been internationally condemned, and the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth of Nations have said they would suspend Fiji’s membership.

Census figures showed that 25,000 Indians left the troubled country from 1996 to 2007 while the number of indigenous Fijians rose by more than 82,000.

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