According to Countryaah, the capital of Fiji is Suva. President Kamisese dismissed the kidnapped prime minister, claiming that he thereby reduced his political importance to the kidnappers, in order to get Speight to change his stance. A new coup was conducted May 29 under the leadership of Frank Bainarama. He dismissed the president on the grounds that he had become weak and had lost his power.
The kidnappers were now granted amnesty after releasing their hostages. In July, Ratu Josefa Iloilo was named interim president and Laisenia Qarase was named interim prime minister. As Speight made threats against the new government even before it was appointed, he and 350 of his armed friends were arrested by the military.
The coup left a deep wound in the country and the racial contradictions intensified. In February 2001, the Fiji Supreme Court ruled that the militarily supported government was illegal. At the same time, the government announced that elections were being held for August or September of the same year.
Speight (Ilikini Naitini) of the Conservative Alliance (MV) was elected prime minister at the August 2001 election while awaiting a prison sentence for treason. However, the rejected Mahendra Chaudhry was also elected and his party lost the election only by a narrow margin – Fiji’s united party got 46% of the vote. Although the 1997 Constitution gave the parties the right to a number of ministerial posts similar to their representation in parliament, the interim head of government, Qarase, excluded Chaudhry’s party from obtaining ministerial posts. The Supreme Court overturned that decision and ordered Qarase to include members of Chaudhry’s party in his government as well.
In December, Speight was deprived of the prime minister’s post, as he had no opportunity to participate in government work. Shortly thereafter, the deposed prime minister was sentenced to death for treason, but in February 2002, President Iloilo signed a decree overturning the verdict.
The slow return to democracy led to a correspondingly slow economic recovery. The country’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and sugar production, and the political turmoil in 2000-02 led to a 70% drop in tourism flow – primarily from Australia, New Zealand and the US, whose governments put Fiji on the list of risky destinations.
In November 2002, the sugar industry underwent a radical restructuring when it was decided to privatize the sugar mills that had been state for 120 years. The sugar industry employs 200,000 workers and sugar exports account for 7% of the country’s GDP.
In November 2003, the United States asked Fiji to send troops to the “Stabilization Force” of the superpower in Iraq, and offered to pay for uniforms, weapons and transportation of the soldiers, but Fiji’s government declared that it was unable to cover the expenses such a mission would trigger. However, around 1,000 Fiji soldiers took part in the invasion of Iraq as part of the British occupation forces.
The Asian Development Bank (AsDB) granted Fiji loans for $ 40 million. US $ annually during the period 2004-06. The loans will be used for building infrastructure in the tourism industry, improving airports and roads, urban development, sewerage and expansion of electricity supply in rural areas.
Kamisese Mara who was considered the father of the country’s independence died in April 2004, aged 83 years. In August, Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli was found guilty of treason for his participation in the coup attempt in May 2000. He sat in a few months of the four-year sentence he was sentenced.
In November, the Labor Party failed to take up the offered post in the government not to blur its role as opposition.