PEOPLES COALITION GOVERNMENT

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FIJI ISLANDS

NEWS RELEASE September 23, 2000

SENIOR MILITARY OFFICERS PLOTTED INSURRECTION

Some senior military officers plotted the overthrow of the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces a few weeks before the release of the hostages.

According to a report in today’s Daily Post (September 23), an army officer revealed that some senior officers had plotted to destabilize the Military so as to force the Army Commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama to resign.

The officer claimed that some advisers to the Commander, mostly of the ranks of colonels and lieutenant colonels, but also including other officers of the ranks of captain and above, were behind the take-over of the military barracks in Labasa.

The Post report stated: "When Lieutenant Rupeni Vosayaco led the mutiny at the Sukanaivalu Barrack in Labasa on July 4, the colonels individually rang him from the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva to congratulate him. They also pledged their full support. The officer said the Labasa move was initiated from the QEB [Queen Elizabeth Barracks]. Lieutenant Vosayaco has given the names of these officers to Lieutenant Colonel Jonetani Kaukimoce, who is heading the Board of Inquiry into the Labasa insurrection."

The Post stated further that according to the officer the military planned to storm the Parliament but the Labasa mutiny foiled the plan. This was soon after the military declared a Military Exclusion Zone in Muanikau. The informant also claimed that the same officers also had a hand in the Korovou and Savusavu civilian occupation of Government offices.

"These were all aimed at destabilizing Commodore Bainimarama with the ultimate aim of forcing him to resign," wrote the Daily Post. The Officer claimed: "When the country was in tatters, the officers knew very well how to get the Commander out. It was the same week that the Qaranivalu, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, led a group of civilians into QEB."

The officer said the Qaranivalu had acted on the advice of these officers. "The plan was to box the Commander into a tight corner which will force him to resign. What happened in Labasa and Korovou was supposed to climax with the Qaranivalu's visit."

The Qaranivalu – the high chief of Naitasiri who also was a key Speight supporter – had visited the Military Commander with about 200 of his subjects apparently asking him in the traditional Fijian way to step down. The Commander had refused this request. In the Parliament Complex, the terrorists were certain that the army Commander would be overthrown and replaced by their person in the military. Who their person was is still not totally certain.

It is believed that attempts to overthrow the Commander are continuing. The country has been rife with rumors that there would be another coup, which will include the overthrow of the Commander. Dates floated include October 6, the day the High Court is to hear the Peoples Coalition case against the military’s attempted abrogation of the 1997 Constitution.

Ganesh Chand

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