25 Mar 2011

Continual hammering of Fiji not the right approach - thinktank

1:25 pm on 25 March 2011

The author of a report highlighting the failure of parliamentary democracy in Melanesia says New Zealand and Australia's continual hammering of Fiji for a return to democracy isn't the right approach.

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy's report warns that unless there are urgent reforms to the way democracy's practised across the region, autocracy will take its place.

The report notes that without condoning Fiji's military takeover it's necessary to acknowledge the fact that democracy has never meaningfully existed there.

The institute's communications director, Ben Bohane, says there's a growing consensus that Australasian isolation of Fiji hasn't worked.

"And I think there needs to be a slightly more clear-eyed approach to what existed in before the coup, probably a little more honesty about the fact that it was never a vibrant democracy, it certainly wasn't one-man one-vote before the coup and so acknowledge that it wasn't the perfect democratic system and so I think this continued hammering of Fiji about a return to democracy is not strictly accurate."

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy's Ben Bohane.