FIJI CITIZENS FORUM CALLS FOR COUP INQUIRY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 14, 2000 – Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji's Citizens Constitutional Forum has called for an investigation into interim Information Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola's alleged role in the May putsch.

A statement by the forum's executive director, Rev. Akuila Yabaki, highlighted Ratu Inoke's role in the 1987 coups and his close links with the Taukei Movement, which mounted the destabilization campaign leading to rebel front man George Speight's hostage-taking in Parliament on May 19.

The 16-nation Pacific Forum on Friday condemned the use of force to overthrow constitutionally elected governments and hailed the move by Fiji authorities to charge the coup leaders with treason.

In a full-page interview with the Fiji Times today, Rev. Yabaki defended the 1997 multiracial constitution and explained the role of the citizens’ forum in education and seeking constitutional solutions to the crisis.

Asked about a statement by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's administration claiming the forum was of "no use," Rev. Yabaki said the administration was "not constitutional itself so it has no basis on which it stands."

"It's based on the Muanikau Accord, which is not a respectable accord of moving into the future, because the discussion began when the hostages were not freed and that's a very unhealthy way of talking about peace and reconciliation in the country.

"That accord has failed because arms have still not been returned, and it's unfortunate some of the people who were part of the crisis, who have been named publicly, are in the government.

"They should not be freed from the probe that is to be undertaken.

"They even have a spokesman who is a perilous spokesman. It does not help their cause to have a spokesman like Ratu Inoke Kubuabola because he himself was a participant in what has happened in the crisis."

In the statement by the citizens forum, Rev. Yabaki said: "The Taukei Movement in opposition to the deposed government knows Ratu Inoke as one of the leaders who initiated the destabilization activities."

"His attack on smart sanctions is understandable as he himself could be listed [on the banned blacklists]."

Rev. Yabaki said the Qarase administration would invite problems by including Ratu Inoke as Information Minister.

He also called for the removal of Ratu Inoke from government, as the minister's stand was inconsistent with his previous support for the 1997 constitution.

News media reporting Rev Yabaki's comments were unable to get Ratu Inoke's response.

In other developments:

* The Fiji Times reported that rebels on the run from security forces continued to change their hideouts in the rugged interior of Viti Levu island.

The rebels -- deserting members of the military Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Unit and escaped convicts -- are wanted for the murder of a policeman and a soldier last week.

* The military will not allow the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) to resume operations at Monasavu after the $52 million deal with landowners until all weapons have been returned and the dam area is cleared of possible explosives.

Title -- 2898 FIJI: Citizens forum calls for coup inquiry Date -- 14 August 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- PN, 14/8/00 Copyright – PN Status -- Unabridged

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