Grass Skirts, Canoes, and Cannibalism

Fiji's outspoken military chief, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, has accused the Fiji Government of trying to take the country back to the era of grass skirts, canoes, and cannibalism with their Qoliqoli bill. Qoliqoli would give the Fijian clans legal title to Fiji's coastlines and offshore reefs, and rabble rousing politicians have been using the issue to advance their personal agendas. Tourism operators have pointed out the potential for mischief and misunderstandings if local villagers start interfering in resort operations in the name of indigenous rights.

Bainimarama is no newcomer to controversy. His relentless pursuit of the thugs and opportunists who carried out the civil coup in Suva in May 2000 has been admirable. More than once, he has brushed up against members of the Qarase government who tried to shield the culprits from justice or grant them an amnesty. It's no secret that Prime Minister Qarase would like to see Bainimarama relieved of his command. Few politicians appreciate straight shooters like Voreqe Bainimarama. In turn, the commodore would probably like to see Qarase's back, and we can only hope he has the discipline to wait until the next election to replace him.

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