US Ambassador Larry Dinger to Washington on Chaudhry – another “shadowy figure” (Wikileaks cable):
“Chaudhry, former PM deposed by the 2000 coup and still head of the FLP, phoned today to let the Ambassador know he intends to accept Bainimarama’s offer of the Finance, Public Enterprises, and Sugar Reform portfolios. He put it in terms of having to move Fiji forward and get back to democracy ASAP. When the Ambassador noted how disastrous the past coups had been for Fiji and for Chaudhry personally on two occasions, Chaudhry suggested this coup is different because the Qarase Government was so awful. “Fiji could not have survived another five years.” The Ambassador reiterated the USG view of coups, including this one, and reminded Chaudhry of the visa ban announcement. The Ambassador also urged Chaudhry to exert any influence he has on the Commodore to end abuses by the RFMF against the public. He said he intends to do so. It is increasingly obvious that Chaudhry, leader of the FLP that lost the 2006 elections by a relatively small margin, has been another of the “shadowy figures.” Chaudhry is a puzzle. If Bainimarama’s instruction holds that all ministers in the interim government will be forbidden from running in the next election, then Chaudhry seemingly is giving up elective politics. For someone with politics in his blood, that must be a shock. One wonders if Chaudhry has wrangled an exception from the general rule for himself. On the other hand, it is hard to see how Chaudhry could calculate that the FLP’s collusion with Bainimarama can lead to a win in the next elections in any case. The FLP’s base is the ethnic-Indian community, which has shown some support for the coup; however, to win an election the FLP must win significant votes from the ethnic-Fijian community that reportedly is very unhappy with the coup. Another possible explanation for Chaudhry’s decision is that he calculates the interim administration will be in place for quite a few years.