Barry Soper: Time the great healer for NZ and Fiji

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Frank Bainimarama speaks at the Fiji Festival at Vodafone Events Centre, Manukau in 2014. Photo / Getty
Frank Bainimarama speaks at the Fiji Festival at Vodafone Events Centre, Manukau in 2014. Photo / Getty

Time is a great healer in many aspects of life.

That is certainly the case in politics and that's particularly the case when it comes to our badly behaved neighbour Fiji.

Even though Frank Bainimarama, the country's on again off again, self declared leader is now ensconced in Suva's Prime Ministerial residence, his right to occupy it is being legitimised by the first visit to Fiji by a New Zealand Prime Minister in almost ten years.

The last to go there was Helen Clark just two months before Bainimarama claimed control of the country in December 2006.

John Key says he's going because once Fiji got to the point of having free and fair elections then the relationship should be normalised.

The election were held less than two years ago, but it's debatable whether it was anything like free and fair.

Before the election Bainimarama, who was then the self appointed Prime Minister, decided there were too many political parties and brought in new regulations. Among them was setting party membership at an impossibly high 5000 which meant 14 parties became ineligible and they had to surrender their assets to the Government.

That gave him a clear run to the ballot box, winning 32 of the 50 seats on offer.

Sanctions against Fiji have been dropped and we now have a High Commissioner in the country after the last one was reportedly kicked out because he was given a better ticket at a rugby match than the military leader.

Just a year ago the irascible Fijian leader was wanting to downgrade New Zealand and Australia's status at the Pacific Island Forum to observers and wanted China, a diehard supporter, both financially and morally during his military rule, to have a seat at the table.

But it would seem all is now forgiven, time has moved on, just as it has painfully for the man who hatched the 2000 coup George Speight , the best educated and worldly of Fiji's three coupsters which includes Sitiveni Rabuka.

Speight continues to languish in a maximum security jail

Time has not been as kind to him but the biggest mistake he made was not coming from a military background.

It seems taking 36 MPs hostage wasn't as forgivable as taking the country hostage!

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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