Monitor: Comment from Australia and Papua New Guinea on the Latest South Pacific Coup, in the Solomon Islands ; ALL THE NEWS OF THE WORLD

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The Age

The latest rebellion has sufficient similarity to the coup in Fiji to suggest that its leaders were inspired by the example set by Mr Speight and his gunmen. Like them, they claim to be motivated by a desire to redress an ethnic grievance; like them, they have benefited from the complicity of sympathisers within the official security forces; and, like them, they are holding captive the head of the country's duly constituted government. The copycat nature of the Solomons coup, the failure of Fiji's indigenous elites to uphold constitutional rule and Papua New Guinea's corruption scandals all testify to the weakness of liberal democracy in the Pacific. For Australia, that weakness poses urgent questions. What responsibilities does this country possess in wielding by far the greatest economic and military clout in the region, and how should it exercise them? After the coup in Fiji, Australia's foreign minister talked about the expulsion of Fiji from international bodies and the imposition of sporting and trade sanctions. But still nothing has happened. It is as if Australia is waiting for some greater power to take the initiative, and has not learnt the lesson of East Timor. The US and other greater powers see Australia as the custodian of democratic values in the region and expect it to act. Sanctions have had limited success elsewhere, but the dependence of the island economies upon Australia suggests they may have greater effect in this region. They should be tried. (Australia)

Post Courier online

It seems from reports that the rebel Malaita Eagle Force has abandoned the negotiations which have been going on with the Commonwealth Secretariat to restore peace and normalcy to the country. Instead, it prefers to usurp the powers of a democratically elected government and prime minister who has a clear mandate from his people to govern his country. …