FORMER FIJI GOVERNMENT MINISTER RIGAMOTO REVISITS PARLIAMENT 'GHOSTS'

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 2, 200 – Fiji’s Daily Post/Fiji Television/Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests Marieta Rigamoto was near tears yesterday while recalling the terror she endured in the parliamentary chamber during her 37 days in captivity, the Daily Post reports.

As an assistant minister in the deposed People’s Coalition Government, she said she usually had a lot of respect for the chambers.

Ms. Rigamoto said she still found it hard to believe all that had happened at gunpoint.

Recounting her experiences, she said the hostages had spent the first night on the benches and at one time she recalled that they were told they were going to be shot if the military stormed the complex.

Life was very difficult then but somehow they adapted to the situation.

She said male hostages acted as their security, as armed men frequented the chambers to check on them.

The four female hostages slept in the VIP gallery for about 35 nights while the men were in the main chamber for 55 nights.

Former Opposition Leader Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, who is now interim Information Minister, condemned the damage done to Parliament by rebel leader George Speight’s supporters.

Ratu Inoke, who was a founder of the nationalist Taukei Movement and an architect of the 1987 coups, was shocked at the extent of the damage when he visited Parliament.

"This is not what Fijians stand for, not the Fijian way. This is really criminal," he said on Fiji Television last night.

He told the Daily Post that the extent of the "mindless destruction" revealed the true nature of the rebels’ intentions -- which was not indigenous rights.

Most of the cabinet ministers in interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s administration who visited Parliament called for a new house of assembly after inspecting the damage caused by the rebels.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Times said the Qarase administration would set up a tribunal to investigate civil servants suspected of supporting the overthrow of the Chaudhry government.

This was announced by the Public Service Commission chair, Sakeasi Waqanivavalagi, yesterday and the commission’s secretary, Anare Jale, said it would comprise a lawyer and independent individuals.

The Fiji Times reported that the inquiry would include the appointment of businesswoman Ateca Williams to the Disciplinary Services Commission.

She was earlier listed in the rebel ministerial line-up.

Already under investigation for their alleged involvement with the rebels are Adi Samanunu Talakuli, the High Commissioner to Malaysia; and Rusiate Korovusere, first secretary in Canberra.

"Civil servants involved in political activities related to the current political crisis will be investigated and disciplined," Jale said.

"Nobody is above the law."

Title -- 2883 FIJI: Minister revisits parliament 'ghosts' Date -- 2 August 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- PN, Daily Post, Fiji Television, Fiji Times 2/8/00 Copyright -- PN/DP/FT/FT Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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