Fiji. In February, the indictment against Fiji’s former prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, was dropped for lack of evidence. The leader of the opposition Labor Party, which has harshly criticized Frank Bainimarama’s regime, was indicted in 2010 for, among other things, money laundering, tax fraud and for holding a public meeting despite the state of emergency. A lawsuit against him had been initiated in November 2010.
According to Countryaah official site, Former President Ratu Josefa Iloilo passed away in February, 90 years old. He was President 2000–09. Iloilo’s presidency was briefly canceled in connection with Army chief Bainimarama’s coup in December 2006, but he was reinstated shortly thereafter by Bainimarama himself.
In March, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced that New Zealand will lift its entry ban on Fijian government members if the government sticks to its promise to hold general elections in Fiji in 2014. He added that the opposition must also be allowed to take part in the elections. Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola promised free and fair elections. The entry bans to New Zealand and Australia on Fiji’s government are one of the sanctions imposed by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) against Fiji in 2009, when Bainimarama postponed the elections he first promised for that year. Fiji was then also excluded from the cooperation organization. Bainimarama’s reason for postponing the 2014 elections was for the constitution to be rewritten to abolish Fiji’s traditional link between ethnicity and politics.
The chief and politician Ratu Inoke Takiveikata was sentenced in March to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court for driving a group of militants to mutiny and take control of the military headquarters in the capital Suva in 2000. The uprising was defeated by government troops and eight soldiers died. Takiveikata, one of Bainimarama’s toughest opponents, received a life sentence for the same crime as early as 2004, but it was appealed. In 2010, he was also sentenced to seven years in prison for planning to kill Bainimarama.
A former army officer, Tevita Mara, who belonged to Bainimarama’s confidant at the 2006 coup, fled to Australia in May where he launched a campaign to try to accelerate the return to democracy in his home country. He had been convicted of rioting for criticizing Bainimarama. Mara first went to Tonga with the help of the Tongan army. There he began broadcasting messages on the YouTube site against Bainimarama and for democracy. When Mara said he had withdrawn from the regime in Fiji, which he called a “disgusting dictatorship”, Australia lifted its entry ban on him. Mara and a group called Fiji’s Democratic Movement later released a ten-point action plan that they felt was necessary for Fiji’s return to democracy, including elections. The former army officer would then continue his campaign in New Zealand, where he received a visa.
In September, Bainimarama introduced a decree that meant the right to strike for many civil servants. Under the new law, several state-owned companies, including the airline and the TV-company as well as several banks, are considered so important to the country that they must always function and therefore their employees are no longer entitled to go on strike. This restriction of trade union rights was harshly criticized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and by the human rights organization Amnesty International.