by Jenny Hayward-Jones
Original post “The Interpreter” webblog of Lowy Institute for International Policy
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra is reportedly in Vanuatu today, seeking to meet leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji). In the last week, he has also been to Tonga and Fiji, where he is reported to have met with Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
Media reports quoting informed sources in Fiji say Thaksin is considering investing $300m in Fiji in return for protection from extradition. This would be a very attractive sum for the Fiji interim Government, desperately in search of donors and investors. To put it into perspective, China, purported to be Fiji’s saviour, has pledged US$161.3 in aid to Fiji, of which a little over half appears to be committed to projects.
Thaksin’s offer would be welcome relief for Bainimarama in his quest to prove that Fiji is a sound destination for foreign investment.
The democratically-elected government of Thaksin Sinatwra was deposed in a military coup in September 2006, only three months before Commodore Bainimarama staged his own military coup to overthrow Fiji’s democratically elected government.
Ironic that the victim of one military coup is considering providing succour for the perpetrator of another.