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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Indian media views Fiji 'nightmare'
Mahendra Chaudhry and George Speight
Deposed and deposer: Delhi wants Chaudhry reinstated

The Indian press has been following events in Fiji with close attention.

While editorials have urged the Indian government to take action to help restore democracy, commentators have not been mincing their words.

"Fiji's racially surcharged cauldron is about to boil over," the Pioneer wrote.

The Idi Amin clone, George Speight... remains defiant despite most of his demands being met by the country's pusillanimous former President

The Pioneer

"The situation has worsened... and it would be no exaggeration to say that the island is poised on the brink of collapsing into complete turmoil."

The Pioneer said there had been a total breakdown of constitutional government.

"Democracy has been virtually replaced with mobocracy. Even as all authority has been snatched from the legal centres of power, attempts are afoot to introduce a regressive political order and legitimize racially discriminatory policies."

"The Idi Amin clone, George Speight, leader of the armed mob which first staged the de facto coup, remains defiant despite most of his demands being met by the country's pusillanimous former president," the Pioneer said.

The paper pointed to the example of the successful international intervention, under the aegis of the United Nations, in East Timor in 1999.

"A strong case... exists for international action in Fiji, and on similar grounds, to protect the rights of ethnic Indians," it said.

Delhi seen to hesitate

The Hindi-language paper Hindustan accused the Indian Government of delay.

"The most important question is: for how long will the democratic countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the US, which are in close economic and geographical proximity to Fiji, allow the military rule to last there and why," it asked.

Does the Indian Government have any policy toward the Indians living abroad? This must now be revealed

Hindustan newspaper

The paper said India should play a more active role because 44% of Fijians - including the ousted prime minister - are of Indian origin.

"It is not known why India kept hesitating in playing any vigorous role and left the clan of Indians to suffer racial oppression and large-scale migration."

"Does the Indian Government have any policy toward the Indians living abroad? This must now be revealed."

For its part, the English-language Hindustan Times described the situation in Fiji as "nightmarish".

It said it was unclear whether George Speight represented the majority of Melanesian opinion "or that of a relatively small rabid section".

"Even he cannot be unaware of the turmoil that will result if he tries to terrorise more than 40% of the population into submission. The consequent shock waves will be disastrous for Fiji's political and economic future," it said.

Uncertainty over Devare mission

The Hindustan Times went on to add that the fast-moving developments in Fiji had "lent an air of uncertainty" to the mission to Fiji being undertaken by India's External Affairs Ministry's secretary for economic relations, Sudhir Devare, who arrived in Fiji on Friday.

"Sources [in New Delhi] are sceptical over the extent to which his trip will help the Indian community in the island nation," the paper said.

The restoration of the Mahendra Chaudhry regime is still the single point Indians demand

Hindustan Times

It quoted highly-placed government sources as saying that Delhi was keeping the mandate of the Devare mission a secret.

However, the sources said it had given him "broad flexibility" to secure the security of Fiji's ethnic Indian population and to secure the safe passage out of Fiji of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

The paper pointed out that in the past the Indian government has resorted to sending unofficial emissaries to countries with which Delhi was not inclined to engage officially.

"Even as Mr Devare was on his way, the [Ministry of External Affairs] spokesman maintained that India did not recognise the military regime in Suva that has taken over from President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara," it said.

"The restoration of the Mahendra Chaudhry regime is still the single point Indians demand."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

26 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Fiji's economy in peril
30 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
International dismay at Fiji coup
19 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Ethnic split haunts Fijian politics
27 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji prime minister sacked
23 May 00 | South Asia
Relatives plead for Fiji PM
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