The Alliance Party ruled Fiji for 13 years following independence under the philosophy of multiracialism expressed in a number of symbolic gestures such as the official declaration of Christian holidays, Hindu Diwali holiday and Prophet Mohammed’s birthday as national holidays.
However, the notion of
multiracialism had two potentially negating tendencies: the first was peaceful co-existence of different ethnic groups and the second was preservation of distinctive political and ethnic identities. The harmonious balance between the two was maintained as long as indigenous Fijians controlled political power. This was tested for the first time in 1987.
188 | The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three
The coup culture The first coup in May 1987 followed the shift in the political gravity away from indigenous Fijian political control after the defeat of the indigenous- Fijian-dominated Alliance Party to the predominantly Indo-Fijian NFP-Labour coalition in the April 1987 election. The Fijian military, more than 90 per cent of whom
were indigenous Fijians, intervened on behalf of indigenous ethno- nationalist groups clamouring for the reinstatement of indigenous political rule and the creation of an i-Taukei (indigenous Fijian) state. These demands were inspired
by the doctrine of paramountcy of Fijian interest devised during the colonial era to refer to protection