INVOLVING the Republic of Fiji Military Forces directly or indirectly to maintain security could have far-reaching ramifications internally and could also impact on tourism and investment during a critical time – Fiji’s economic recovery effort from the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This according to Fijian academic and director of the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Professor Steven Ratuva.
“Given our dark history of military intervention, getting the military involved either directly or indirectly to assist the Police will send out an extremely chilling message to our coup-traumatised population as well as destroy our reputation once more in the eyes of the rest of the world apart from impacting on foreign investment, tourism and wellbeing of the nation,” he said.
Prof Ratuva said social media discourse on details of “threats against minority groups” and campaigns to highlight how all the races in Fiji live in harmony to a large extent should not be ignored.
“The people’s verdict and voices need to be respected.
“There is consensus that there’s no ethnic violence contrary to police claims.
“The military commander as a respected professional should maintain his impeccable international status and promises to the people and push back on attempts from outside the military to involve his men. The Fiji population is traumatised just by the mere mention of the term ‘military’ given the history of coups in Fiji.
“Let the politicians and legal organs of the state sort out the political crisis, no matter how messy it is. We’ve seen worse around the world and I’m sure there’s enough resilience in Fiji to get us through.”
Prof Ratuva was responding to a statement by Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho that because of “threats made against minority groups who are now living in fear following recent political developments”, a decision was made to call in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to assist police with the maintenance of security and stability.