AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER TO FIJI EXPLAINS WITHDRAWAL FROM RABUKA BOOK

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 23, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji, Susan Boyd, has denied reports she refused to host the launch in Suva of a biography of former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

The book has caused controversy in the country, with President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara having taken legal action to collect payment for damages.

Ratu Mara has denied Major General Rabuka's claim that they talked about a possible military coup, four days before it happened in 1987.

The High Commissioner said the decision on how to launch the book was made by the publishers.

"They had originally thought of having a launch, but given there's a certain amount of controversy about the book and given also there's a court case pending, because as you know Ratu Mara has filed a case, I think they decided it was better not to have a launch per se here," she said, "and they told they would be having a press conference to introduce the book next week.

"I'll go along and see General Rabuka who we know very well and I've got a copy of his book and I'll ask him to sign it," High Commissioner Boyd added.

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

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