Home » Uncategorized » Call for Australia to drop Fiji sanctions now

Call for Australia to drop Fiji sanctions now

An Australian academic has called for sanctions on Fiji’s coup installed military regime to be dropped immediately.

Dr Karl Claxton, a research analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says it’s a risk that’s worth taking if it helps return Fiji to democracy.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Dr Karl Claxton, research analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

CLAXTON: There’s been quite a bit of commentary to suggest that we need to keep the pressure on the regime and that we need to avoid getting egg on our face by being taken for ride essentially. I can see where that caution comes from. A lot of people have been burned over the years, but I believe that Fiji stands at a crossroads now. We were talking with Fiji and international business people last week and they say that there’s investor interest in the kind of investment Fiji needs to move its economy ahead, but they’re hanging back. They need stability and they need elections. So on one side there’s some promise, but on the otherhand, there’s a real danger that Fiji will totally squander the legacy that it has and that it’s been continuing along, it’s still got some low economic growth and things still work in Fiji, but I really think this is sort of last chance. They need to have elections soon, so I think rather than worrying about getting egg on our face, we should end sanctions now. The sanctions have been the least bad option up to now and our risk policy prescription as been first do not harm. But I think the time to move forward boldly has come.

HILL: But if Australia drops those sanctions now before the elections, does Australia have any leverage over the regime about the conduct of those elections?

CLAXTON: Well, that’s the thing Bruce. As Graeme Dobell said on your show the other day, the sanctions have in effect been let go, only one request for a waiver has been refused and that was on technical grounds. So the sanctions give us very little leverage. They’ve been useful symbolically, they have helped delegitimise the regime, but now it’s time to reverse the symbolism and the symbolism now needs to be that we, Australia, are keen to move forward with Fiji. There’s mutual distrust and hostility and real resentment on both sides.

Julie Bishop made a breakthrough a couple of weeks ago, but a one hour successful meeting is just the start of things and I genuinely believe the best way to move forward now is to be bold and to try and reset the relationship. This may not work, but if it doesn’t work, the current sanctions are giving us no leverage and we’ll need to think of what to do following the election. But at the moment, I think non-conditionality. not imposing conditions on moving forward and avoiding threats is absolutely crucial on both sides. We need to bold, we need to afford ‘in good faith’, and that gives the highest likelihood that we’ll have elections, that the election results will be adhered to and that whoever wins the election and we don’t know whose going to win the election. There’s been no democracy for seven-and-a-half years and anyone could win. It’s important that whoever does win governs for all Fijians and there are some nasty scenarios you can think of. The best way to get ourselves some leverage in that and to do the right thing and to be on the side of the angels now is to move forward, to take the Prime Minister Bainimarama at his word and hold him to account for his word.


25 thoughts on “Call for Australia to drop Fiji sanctions now

  1. The thugs have ruled for almost 8 years. Isn’t this enough! The people of Fiji have no freedom of expression under the illegal regime for 8 years while paying a salary of 1.3 million. Bai/ Khayium are thugs who have robbed taxpayers money.
    Australia should push for an interim government with apolitical people so that Fiji can have a free and fair election. Otherwise the election will be rigged by Khayium. Australia should come hard on their citizens who are working for the illegal regime. The Australian government should maintain and bring move sanction to the regime.

  2. I advise Dr. Karl to visit Fiji and see the reality on ground as people cannot freely speak.Australia should have played an active role and taken action on it’s citizen who are closely allied to the regime.Australia should have got UN to remove the soldiers from peace keeping duties.The Fijian military should have been put under pressure.

  3. Perhaps Claxton needs to elaborate further on what he means by ‘nasty scenarios’? Does he mean more human rights abuses and bashings by regime thugs? That continues to be the biggest threat facing Fiji.

    There have been others in the ASPI pleading the case for Bainimarama. Why is this so? Bainimarama and the illegal regime desperately want Australia to lift sanctions to give some ‘legitimacy’ to those who have committed treason and raped democracy. It would be very foolish indeed for Australia to fall into this trap. One smells a Korvis here somewhere?

  4. Dr Karl is a stupid analyst. Holding elections only for the sake of it is useless. He must study all the decrees this illegal government have put in to understand how unfair it really is to other political parties. You cannot have two teams playing good, clean rugby if the written rules heavily favor one team whilst the other is penalized every step of the game. Come on Dr Karl, I challenge you to be more thorough in your analytical assessment of the Fiji political scene. And by the way, the only breakthrough Ms Bishop made was presenting an autographed jersey to the illegal PM.

  5. Fiji sun reports
    “Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says his political party will not go into coalition with any other party after this year’s general elections.
    He is aiming for a clean sweep in the 50-seat parliament.
    Mr Bainimarama said winning all the 50 seats would make things easy for his party to deliver much-needed service to the people.
    “We know that when we have opposition in Parliament, they will always go against any positive move made by the Government,” he said.
    He said that his party would have a totally different manifesto.
    He said this UFDF coalition just wanted to remove him from leadership and also the reforms that his Government had put in place.”

    Bai is on full speed political campaigning as PM using Govt resources, paid from taxpayers funds..with no published rules on campaigning published and under his own rules that Public servants (PM is public servant) should not actively and publicly partake in politics.

    WEmust discuss widely Bai’s illegality and all his evil actions. We must persuade all our friends not to vote for Bainimaram and his party members

  6. the self-appointed Prime Minister Bainimarama is NOT an accountable person. he does not believe in accountability. how will he be made accountable? with all the power and influence available to the international community it has NOT been able to hold this thug ruler accountable for anything for over 7 years now.
    But it’s not hard to see where this Dr Karl Claxton fala is coming from. We have heard “experts” like him make that kind of puerile noise before

  7. My politics lecturer used to tell us not to get carried away with the titles people had such as Dr or Prof etc but to bring a critical mind to bear on the content of their statement.
    When I do that I find Dr Karl Claxton lacking in critical understanding of the reality of Fiji politics unfolding under the Bainimarama military regime.. His thinking has obviously been influenced by “the Fiji and international business people” he’s been rubbing shoulders with.
    Their concern is with their business interest not the destiny of Fiji and its people.
    Dr Karl Claxton is a spokesman for THAT interest.

  8. The slurpers supporting this illegal junta are becoming more and more desperate. What is their motivation?

  9. We are getting used to these periodic nonsense from academics of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. It just shows how they are so out of touch with reality! Lesson for us though from this kind of dribble is the obvious pattern of self-serving approaches that Australia adopts to addressing Fiji’s problems. The rhetoric of Claxton says it all!

    Claxton says: “We were talking with Fiji and international business people last week and they say there is investor interest in the kind of investments that Fiji needs to move its economy ahead but they are hanging back.” He would be referring to Australian business interests here because that is all there is to it! All they want is a quick fix solution that would allow them returning to exploiting Fiji’s trade and economic vulnerability for their advantage! What benefit can be extracted from Fiji’s natural landscape and resources including its human capital is high on the agenda here. It doesn’t take rocket science to tell us what drives Australia’s foreign policy in the Pacific islands and one can gauge that Papua New Guinea’s experience. To suggest lifting sanctions as incentive for early polls so that Australian economic interest can be normalized is clearly unhelpful! Fiji needs more than promoting democracy for Australia’s self interest. It needs a democracy that looks after Fiji’s economic interest first and foremost. So thanks to Claxton’s nonsense!

  10. People open your eyes, we have come a long way and there is no point in turning back now,Out for the old Fiji ha s moved on already

  11. @ mackeral
    there is very little movement in your thinking apparatus because it seems to be jammed!

  12. Is Claxton trying to say that if Australia doesn’t lift sanctions on the human rights abusing thugs then the dictator Bainimarama might not allow elections? Is this a threat? Reading between the lines of this junta spin it would indicate very clearly that the sanctions are having the much needed impact on this dictator – perhaps it is time for Australia to show some courage and indeed increase the sanctions until Bainimarama is put back to where he belongs – in gaol!!!

  13. Dr Karl Claxton I recommend you study carefully what Raymond Bonner has written in his book Waltzing with a Dictator. The book “traces the history of the Marcos regime, examines US policy towards the Phillipines, and argues that US support for dictators is counterproductive” (Google Books).
    You strike me as the sort of “strategic policy adviser” that was responsible for the bankrupt US foreign policy towards the Marcos dictatorship.
    Read Raymond Bonner . You might learn a thing or two.

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