LAWYER REJECTS RABUKA STATEMENT THAT MARA KNEW OF FIRST 1987 COUP

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 15, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---Suva lawyer Gyaneshwar Lala has rubbished claims that Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was aware of the first military coup in 1987.

He said new claims by former military strongman Sitiveni Rabuka that Ratu Sir Kamisese was in the know, does not hold water in the face of earlier litigations on the issue.

Mr. Lala than produced documents, in which Mr. Rabuka had retracted earlier statements attributed to him that implicated Ratu Sir Kamisese.

It was on Friday March 20, 1992, that the Daily Post carried a front page story in which the then Major General Sitiveni Rabuka claimed that he was asked by the Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, to carry out the first military coup in 1987.

According to the report, Major-General Rabuka made the disclosure during the Nadroga/Navosa Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei constituency meeting at Talenavuruvuru, in Sigatoka.

The following day, Saturday, March 21, The Times, a London newspaper, carried a brief report titled "Plot revealed."

It said: "Brigadier Sitiveni Rabuka, leader of the 1987 coup, has said that Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the prime minister, asked him to overthrow the government after he lost an election, Fiji's Daily Post reported."

On the same day, the Daily Post carried another front-page headline, which read: APOLOGY.

The unreserved apology was offered to the Prime Minister and now President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara for the embarrassment the Friday, March 20 article had caused.

A year later, The Times of London editor Peter Stothard, on June 2, 1993, wrote to Ratu Sir Kamisese and asked him to accept his unreserved apologies for any embarrassment caused by the brief report his paper carried.

Mr. Stothard also confirmed in his letter of apology that The Times of London had since established that the report from Reuters was "wholly untrue."

He also confirmed that in recompense, The Times will pay a sum in damages together with Ratu Sir Kamisese's legal costs.

Mr. Lala acted for Ratu Sir Kamisese on both occasions.

Last night, Mr. Lala questioned Mr. Rabuka's sincerity in bringing up the issue again in his new book to be launched in Canberra at lunch today.

"Why is Mr. Rabuka changing his story now after all he had already retracted earlier statements that Ratu Sir Kamisese had asked him to overthrow the Bavadra-led government in the first coup of 1987?" Mr. Lala asked.

"There was mutual settlement with both Ratu Sir Kamisese's legal claims settled and damages paid.

"That's the end of the matter. Any new allegations made should not be taken seriously."

Ratu Sir Kamisese left for Hawai‘i yesterday.

His office said he should be back on March 22 and hopefully a statement would be issued then.

In his memoir, The Pacific Way, published recently, Ratu Sir Kamisese devoted a chapter to the military take-over in which he outlined his role. He denied any knowledge of the coup or any involvement until after it was executed.

In his book, "No Other Way," Mr. Rabuka said he planned the coup alone and executed it in his own way.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

 

RABUKA ADAMANT THAT MARA KNEW ABOUT 1987 COUP IN ADVANCE

SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 16, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The leader of the 1987 Fiji coup, Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, is adamant that he forewarned the then prime minister and current president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, of an impending coup.

In a biography published this week, Mr. Rabuka claimed that he discussed the options of a military coup or uprising with Ratu Sir Kamisese four days before the coup happened.

Ratu Sir Kamisese has denied the claim.

But Mr. Rabuka says he stands by his claim.

"My view of what transpired in those discussions . . . I believe he has now denied any knowledge.

"Unfortunately for Professor John Sharpham (who authored the biography) and I, he did not take up the offer to contribute at the writing stage of the biography. Failing that, at that time, I was prepared to give it the way I saw it, the way I knew it, the way I remember it."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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