May 2000 Coup: Fiji Plagued by Political and Social Unrest

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Topics: Ethnic group
The Republic of the Fiji Islands is currently plagued by political and social unrest. Since the hostile May 2000 coup the status of the Fijian government has been extremely unclear. Although George Speight, the coup leader, and remaining government officials agreed to an interim government, it has not yet gained stability nor received recognition from the international community. The interim government has initiated the process of drafting a new constitution to replace Fiji's multi-ethnic constitution of 1997 with one guaranteeing the political supremacy of indigenous Fijians. The future of the interim government is itself questionable as is evident by the Fijian court declaring the coup and subsequent developments illegal and upholding the ousted 1997 constitution. The primary cause of the chaos is ethnic animosity, however, it is evident that other factors including historical, economical, cultural and regional divisions all contribute to Fiji's turmoil. It is the purpose of this paper to identify the seminal events of ethnic chaos in Fiji. Competing theories of ethnic politics will be applied to the Fijian situation so that the route causes of the turmoil may be identified and exploited in the formation of a possible solution to the chaos.
The foundations of conflict between native Fijians and ethnic Indians were laid in the 1874 deed of cession signed by the United Kingdom and the chiefs of Fiji. The deed bound Britain to the Fijian way of life as assured by Fijian chiefs holding the most power in the political system. The three major issues addressed in the deed are also the main causes of Fijian conflict today. The first condition was that all the land not under European control at the time of the deed, (approximately 90 percent) would remain under Fijian ownership.
The second condition of the deed of cession was the forced migration of 61,000 indentured workers from India to the sugar plantations of Fiji. In 1916 the Indian workers were

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