Affirmative action is often conceptualized as a conflict resolution mechanism in a situation of ethnic tension and socio-economic inequality. However, as the case of Fiji shows, affirmative action can also help spawn communal strife. Affirmative action is often used as political leverage by political parties and elites to serve political and personal ends. In post-colonial states like Fiji, where the designated groups are the politically dominant and demographic majority, the contradiction between using affirmative action to address inequality on one hand and political leveraging on the other is a common dilemma. In the period under review in the article (2000–2006), affirmative action was used as leverage for ethnic appeasement, mobilization of electoral support and self-enrichment. This led to abuse, scandals and even more tension.

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