FIJI’S RATU MARA ‘MAY BE REINSTATED’

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FIJI’S RATU MARA ‘MAY BE REINSTATED’

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 27, 2000 – Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji's rebels, still holding 27 captives from the ousted elected government, believe that President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara has not resigned, the Fiji Times reports.

Rebel leader Ilisoni Ligairi said they suspected Ratu Mara would be reinstated once the army secured the release of the hostages taken on May 19.

Ligairi said this was why they wanted a decree appointing the former Vice President, Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilo, promulgated.

He said the military had produced no evidence that Ratu Mara had resigned.

This, he added, was why talks with the military kept stalling.

He made the comment as the military yesterday considered an option of going ahead and appointing a civilian administration.

"All they have given is a verbal undertaking," Ligairi told the Fiji Times.

"They say he will not return but our observations and information gathered show that Ratu Mara is still pulling strings to get the army to do what he wants."

Ligairi asked why Ratu Mara was still paid his presidential salary while payments to elected parliamentarians had stopped.

He also questioned the continued use of Government House facilities and vehicles by Ratu Mara's children.

"This is a question the military must answer if they want us to believe the verbal assurances they have given us."

Ligairi, who has in recent days revealed himself as the key player in the takeover bid, yesterday admitted that the military's Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit "became involved on my orders and would not act on anyone else's orders.

"I never knew who (rebel leader George) Speight was until about one hour before the coup. You see, my men are trained for this kind of exercise. Getting rid of the government was something that almost every Fijian was talking about at the time," Ligairi said.

The Daily Post reported that the military was now opting to run the country for the next two years.

"It's an option we are considering," said army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini.

This comes after talks between the military and Speight's team "went up against the wall" on Sunday.

Title -- 2830 FIJI: Ratu Mara 'may be reinstated' Date -- 27 June 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- PN/FT/DP, 27/6/00 Copyright -- PN/FT/DP Status – Unabridged

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