RABUKA SITTING ON TIME BOMB: LANDOWNER BOKADI

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By Robert Matau

SUVA, Fiji (July 8, 1998 - Fiji Post/Pasific Nius/Niuswire/Tuqiri)---Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka should have realized that by unnecessarily provoking landowners with armed soldiers he could be sitting on a potential time bomb, the Daily Post reports.

Nadonumai landowner Atunaisa Bokadi said the Monasavu case was typical of the state of affairs of Fiji's land system, the whole traditional structure and the way native landowners had been treated over the years.

"If blood is shed in Monasavu it will trigger off a civil war this country has never seen before," Bokadi said.

"That blood will be on the hands of Mr. Rabuka and Home Affairs Minister Paul Manueli.

"The only way you can solve a situation like Monasavu is through the traditional Fijian way -- by talking frankly without any exaggerations or lies."

Bokadi said Rabuka and Manueli should resign because they could not handle the situation.

"Politically it gives them the excuse to carry out another coup within the guise of a state of emergency decree so they can do whatever they like," he said.

"By doing this, we would have seen Mr. Rabuka transformed from an army officer to a coup leader, to a prime minister to a dictator.

"As far as I am concerned, I still regard Mr. Rabuka as a Fijian -- only by name," he said.

"His actions, his sentiments and his politics are becoming anti-Fijian.

"From a military point of view he has deserted camp again."

Bokadi said one just had to look at the way Indian freehold landowners were evicting their Indian tenants to get their land back.

"When a Fijian makes his demands, the Native Land Trust Board is guided by the Native Lands Trust Act [and] takes government's side even though section 9 of the act states it must act within the interests of the landowners," he said.

"As far as the international community is concerned, Fijian interests are defunct and Mr. Rabuka is listening to the international community."

Bokadi said only Commissioner of Police Isikia Savua acted calmly in the Monasavu situation as he understood what all-out violence would have meant.

"Apart from a couple of dead police officers it would have triggered off anti-government sentiments from Fijian people," he said.

Mr. Bokadi said the plight of Monasavu landowners was the plight of all Fijians.

Title -- 1535 LAND: Rabuka 'sitting on time bomb' Date -- 9 July 1998 Byline -- Robert Matau Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 9/7/98 Copyright -- Daily Post Status -- Unabridged

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