SUVA, Fiji, Reuter: With its “Fiji for Fijians” rallying cry, a shadowy extremist group that draws support mainly from traditional tribal society has emerged as a major force in shaping the Island state’s political future.
The Taukei movement, credited with inspiring the May 14 military coup that propelled Fiji into world headlines, now threatens to force the country into republicanism unless Indian dominance of the economy is ended forever.
Coup leader Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka says he toppled the Indian backed government of Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra to preempt violent protests by Taukei.
He said Taukei leaders planned mass prison breakouts, attacks on Indianowned business and arson in a scheme they called “Operation Moses”.
Another Taukei demand was echoed this week by Fiji’s paramount traditional body, the great council of Chiefs, which proposed a new system of government guaranteeing power would remain firmly in Fijian hands.
“We have to have a guarantee that Fijians will have control. What was the use of the coup if we don’t”, Senior Taukei Committee Member Ratur (Chief) Inoke Kubuabola told Reuters.
Taukei, a Fijian word meaning “owners” or “indigenous people”, confined itself to preaching tribal values under the government of Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, which ruled Fiji for 17 years until the April election won by Bavadra.
Taukei now wants Indians, the descendants of imported sugarcane laborers, frozen out of political power for good. Indians slightly outnumber Fijians in the 714,000 population.
“Fifi must be Fijian shed”, Taukei said in a written proposal for Constitutional reform. “The Taukei want to turn the rising tide now swamping the identity and aspirations of the indigenous Fijians”.
“Democracy has meant the subservience of Fijian indigenous values, customs and tradition to foreign values”, Taukei’s reform proposals said.
“There is a strong fundamentalist Christian thread running through the Taukei leadership,” a Western diplomat said. “It is not just a Fijians versus Indians argument but a Christian versus Hindu problem”.
Taukei papers contrast Christian ethics of cooperation and brotherhood with what it says are Hindu beliefs: “Indians are individuals with greatest loyalty to the self in pursuit of material gain and show little respect for anyone who tries to obstruct their intention.”
Article extracted from this publication >> August 7, 1987