FIJI REBEL SHOT DEAD AS ARMY MOVES TO END LAWLESSNESS IN NORTH

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 4, 2000 - FM96/ Navtarang/Viti FM/PINA Nius Online)---A rebel has died in Vanua Levu after he was injured in a shooting incident last night.

Military spokesperson Major Howard Politini says the rebel, armed with a 22-caliber rifle, shot at soldiers in Dreketi. He was injured when the soldiers returned fire.

Meanwhile, in another incident, a sugar cane laborer was shot by rebels in Vanua Levu. However, the five rebels were apprehended by the soldiers and they are now detained at the Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa.

Major Politini says 37 people are now held at the Sukanaivalu Barracks as the Fiji Military Forces moves to end lawlessness on the country's second biggest island.

Thirty people were arrested in Dreketi as the military moved into all the problem areas in Vanua Levu yesterday to stop all violent incidents in the north within 24 hours.

Major Politini says some of the rebels involved in the incidents have fled into the bush and soldiers are currently combing the areas.

He told FM96: "We landed a team of soldiers in Vanua Levu this morning and they moved through Labasa looking at the trouble spots and at the first instance we have arrested 30 males in Dreketi. A lot of the rebels who were responsible for this have fled into the bush and the military is continuing the search for them. We hope to carry on with this operation to the other trouble spots.

"This morning we moved into Vanua Levu in force and this should enhance the effectiveness of the search for our weapons and putting an end to all these incidents. We have gone out into communities. We moved a large company of men across into Vanua Levu early this morning."

Meanwhile, the last 80 supporters of hostage taker and coup leader George Speight, who were arrested when the military stormed their camp in Suva, were appearing in court in Suva.

Speight's defense attorney, Tuberi Vodo, lodged a writ in the high court. They want Speight, Ratu Timoci Silatolu, Ratu Tevita Bukarau, Ilisoni Ligairi, Jo Nata, Jo Savua, Metuisela Mua and Rusiate Korovusere to appear in court soon. The case was referred to Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga.

Yesterday the military said they had received permission from the court to extend Speight and group's detainment another week due to the Emergency Decree. The military is holding Speight and alleged key advisers and supporters in a temporary prison on Nukulau Island off Suva.

* Today's Daily Post newspaper carried a front-page report of complaints by Speight that he and the others had been punched, kicked, hit with rifle butts and drenched by waves as they were transported by navy boat to Nukulau. A Daily Post "Dear George" editorial reminded Speight that while he had the right to complain he should not forget "the rights that you abused, violated, robbed and raped."

In other developments:

* Ministers of the People's Coalition government ousted following the storming of Parliament by Speight and his armed supporters on May 19 have till the end of the month to move out of their government quarters.

PSC Permanent Secretary Anare Jale says this was published in a decree.

"The decree has already given time until 29th August for them to move out but we have given our own request that the quarters be made available within two weeks because the appointment of the new ministers and the need for them to be housed. Really we are not forcing them to go out; they have time until the 29th to go."

Also published, says Jale, is a decree saying members of the ousted People's Coalition government will be paid until the end of the year.

"There's a decree also on that and it has already been made clear by cabinet that they will be paid for six months until the end of the year and parliamentary allowance until the end of this year."

* A military public relations team headed for Monasavu in the interior of the main island, Viti Levu, to continue negotiations for the return of the Fiji Electricity Authority hydroelectric dam from landowners.

The takeover of the hydropower facility has caused power cuts in Suva and other areas of the country because the Fiji Electricity Authority has had to use standby diesel generators.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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