Jan 21, 2014

Let’s call Nauru what it is — a political coup

Let's not dance around the issue: there's been an effective coup d'etat in Nauru. And the Australian government can't help but involve itself in this outrageous abuse of presidential power.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


The island republic of Nauru has been subject to what amounts to a coup d’etat by its President, Baron Waqa, and his supporters, as a way of avoiding a series of imminent legal decisions that would go against them. Their actions leave the local population of 10,000, and hundreds of asylum seekers deposited there by Australia, in a country where the entire legal system has been not merely nobbled or disregarded but expelled. There is no other way to read the current crisis there, and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s remarks that the matter is an “internal one for the people of Nauru” is nonsense, both de jure and de facto.

In the last few weeks and days, the Nauruan government — the president is chosen from a 15-member Parliament, there is no separate head of state — has refused a visa to Geoffrey Eames, the country’s chief justice, resident in Australia, and deported its chief magistrate, Peter Law, the senior judicial figure in Eames’ absence. Law was deported so as to be prevented from blocking the deportation of two Australians; one, Rod Henshaw, an ex-ABC broadcaster,was the former spokesperson for the previous government. Eames issued an injunction to prevent Law’s removal, but the refusal of a visa made it impossible for him to intervene.

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19 thoughts on “Let’s call Nauru what it is — a political coup

  1. MJPC

    Is he acting under instructions from the Australian Government?
    Did ASIO bug the East Timor offices so that Woodside could gain a financial advantage in petroleum treaty negotiations? Was the same political party in government in Australia? Is the pope a catholic?

  2. klewso

    “Sack & Stack :- the PCMC in Queensland – don’t like their findings? Sack the offenders and stack the replacement”? …. then “whitewash your Fleggate”?

  3. Paulg

    Did the President receive advice before taking these actions? If so, from whom? If not, why not? Did the Australian Government or any of its agencies have any prior knowledge of these actions?

  4. graybul

    Has Nauru, as Guy has ‘called it’, been subject to a Coup? If so, and the evidence seems irrefutable, what then is the status of the Australian Detention Centre given UN legalities governing care of detainees? Morrison’s blatant pretence that Nauru remains a Sovereign State despite the absence of Legal Authority and, the mere fact Nauru exists as an independent entity because it is in Australia’s interest. Are we now to hear that Nauru is an “operational issue” and all further reference excluded from public discourse? After all . . “Free Media” already struggles to a) afford $8000 per visit for a visa and b) in the unlikely midst of a Coup, would they be issued with a visa? Ah General Campbell the God’s smile upon you!

  5. klewso

    A “McDetention” franchise.

  6. Grumpy Old Sod

    Call me paranoid but to my mind it is obvious this has been done with a nod and a wink from the Australian Government. That being the case, when will they also treat our own constitution with equal contempt?

  7. puddleduck

    Excellent analysis from Guy. Profoundly depressing political situation in Nauru, and here in Australia. All conventions, all sense of morality, principles and propriety out the window.
    Where will it end?

  8. paul saxby

    This could be Morrison’s watergate, once it comes to light how much undue influence has come to bear on the Nauru government from Australia.

  9. JohnB

    @Paul Saxby:
    Are you suggesting that we patiently sit and wait 30 years till the Federal Cabinet papers are released? Where is Wikileaks when they are needed?

    Oh. That’s right. Some of the largest “democracies” in the world are doing their level best to silence Wikileaks.

  10. paul saxby

    Is a parliamentary inquiry out of the question? I don’t know. Seems obvious to me Nauru is doing Abbott’s dirty work.

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