BREAKAWAY FIJI ISLAND OF ROTUMA WANTS INDEPENDENCE SO IT CAN GET AID

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By Michael J. Field

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (February 4, 2000 – Agence France-Presse)---A shadowy United States cyber "nation" is helping the Fijian island of Rotuma break away from the republic so it can get foreign aid, one of the people involved said Friday.

Earlier Fiji authorities confirmed they were looking for convicted Californian fraudster David Korem, 46, also known as Mark Pedley, who had been on Rotuma drafting a constitution.

Korem heads the so-called "Dominion of Melchizedek" (DOM) [see http://www.melchizedek.com/] described by the U.S. State Department as "fraudulent in intent and practice."

Korem entered Fiji on his own manufactured DOM diplomatic passport, which was stamped with an entry permit by Fiji Immigration. He told AFP that the Dominion could set up a state within the new state of Rotuma, home to 3,000 people on a split island 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Fiji’s main islands.

Korem expressed pride in the constitution he said he drew up, at the invitation of a Rotuman. However, the Rotuman, Taraivina Rae, in an email to AFP, said it was he, and not Korem, who gave the constitution, drafted on the island, to the Rotumans and it was "not a declaration of independence... Only when the Rotuman Council of Chiefs allows me to discuss the contents, will I be able to. I can only say that it is fashioned upon the American constitution plus Rotuman traditional laws."

He said his vision was for Rotuma to have the same relationship with Fiji that New Zealand was with the Cook Islands. In the latter, the Cooks is "self-governing in free association," which leaves Wellington responsible for its defense and foreign policy.

"This would give Rotuma rights to access world aid for major infrastructure, especially in the fishing and copra industries." Fiji, he said, had not provided Rotuma with infrastructure. The high school, for example, had generators and computers that had waited for three years for the school to be wired.

Ten years ago a New Zealand based martial arts instructor, Henry Gibson, achieved the leadership of the Molmahao clan in the island and attempted to declare independence. His flag was literally shot down and Fiji soldiers were put on the island.

Rae said Gibson had no connection with DOM and was not involved in the latest bid.

Meanwhile, in another e-mail, the self-described "Tzemach ‘Ben’ David Netzer Korem" objected to the description of felon applied to him.

He said false allegations were made against him in 1976 and in 1983. "I paid the full price due for such."

"Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Mandella (sic) also paid for the felonies they were charged with, but would you dare refer to them as convicted felons?"

Michael Field New Zealand/South Pacific Correspondent Agence France-Presse E-mail: [email protected]  Phone: (64 21) 688438 Fax: (64 21) 694035 Website: http://www.afp.com/english/ 

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