IN THE END, it was no real surprise. For 2006 coup leader Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, who retired recently as the military strongman with the rank of rear admiral, it was a foregone conclusion that he would emerge as the triumphant victor in Fiji’s first general election in almost eight years.
Just as it was inevitable in 1992, when the original coupster - who staged two coups in the same year, 1987 - Brigadier-General Sitiveni Rabuka made the transition from military backed prime minister to civilian leader.
A major difference is that Rabuka was elected in 1992 on an indigenous supremacy platform of “Fiji for Fijians” while Bainimarama’s Fiji First party is pledged to a multiracial “Fiji for all Fijians”.
The hope is that Bainimarama’s authoritarian streak will gradually mellow and he will come to recognise as an elected leader the critical importance of a civil society discourse with a strong non-government organisation sector and an independent Fourth Estate.
The media was once a proud and feisty part of Fiji democracy. It can achieve that credible status again.