THERE WILL BE NO MORE COUPS: FIJI ARMY COMMANDER

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 9, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---There will be no more coup d’etats in Fiji.

That was the word from Army Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday.

"The army has never been as united as now, after the mutiny last week," Commodore Bainimarama said.

"We now know who are with us and those who are not. Those who are not will have to go."

Commodore Bainimarama admitted, however, that recent efforts to destabilize the country had come from within and outside the Royal Fiji Military Forces (RFMF).

But he said the solidarity and unity within the army had quelled all efforts by rebel groups.

Commodore Bainimarama confirmed that the military had all the names of those who were behind the attempted military take-over on November 2 and had appealed to all rebel soldiers on the run to surrender themselves.

The elimination of Commodore Bainimarama was the prime target of the mutiny at the army camp at Nabua last week, resulting in the death of eight soldiers and the wounding of 20 other persons.

University of the South Pacific academic Dr. Sitiveni Ratuva, in an article yesterday, said the failed mutiny by the elite Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit (CRW) on November 2, 2000, was not surprising. It was an inevitable development from the "unfinished business" of May 19, he said.

After their release two weeks ago, the members of the CRW, earlier charged with treason over the Parliament takeover, rejoined the ongoing conspiracy hatched during the Parliament stand off and on Nukulau Island prison where Speight and his rebel group are kept.

The plot, it appeared, was to kidnap the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama; make Major General Sitiveni Rabuka negotiator and "in charge" of the army for the time being; have the interim government dismissed; and have George Speight and company released.

This would have probably paved the way for the reactivation of the May coup plan.

That was to put in place a Matanitu Vanua (Fijian Government) under Bauan chiefly tutelage with Ratu Seniloli as President and Speight or Adi Litia Cakobau as Prime Minister, within the politico-legal framework of the "Deed of Sovereignty," a mythical literary construction by the Native Land Trust Board.

The plan failed, and "Episode Two" became another disappointment to the rebels.

If the army mutiny had succeeded, it would no doubt have developed into another political coup.

The plot is even thicker and involves a number of leading senior officers, under investigation for their role in the May insurrection.

The original idea of the May 19 putsch was to emulate the 1987 coup where the entire military closed ranks to execute the project.

It was clinical and "efficient," so to speak.

This time around, it didn’t happen that way because the commander stood his ground and resisted any attempt to be pushed into the ultimate act of treason.

Bainimarama’s steady resistance simply reinforced his unpopularity among some senior officers who secretly plotted with Speight and who were also behind the attempted take-over on November 2.

The fact that the CRW troops managed to secure weapons is still a subject of investigation. After their "release" by the military two weeks ago, these men were disarmed and kept under very strict supervision.

But throughout their period of supervision, they managed to link up with some of their fellow conspirators to plot the takeover. In fact, the takeover plan had been in place for some time.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

 

MILITARY CONTROLS MOVEMENT OF SUSPECT FIJI COLONELS

Staff Reporters USP’s Pacific Journalism Online

SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 8, 2000 – Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---News media have reported two senior Fiji military officers are under house arrest but one, a high-flying colonel, denies this and military officials have now said the men are held under "restricted movement."

The Daily Post today said Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini, who gained a high international profile as the military spokesman after the May 19 coup, and Colonel Ulaiasi Vatu were "reportedly under house arrest."

But military spokesman Major Howard Politini told the Fiji Sun: "The actual fact is that their movements have been restricted. In other words, all their movements are monitored by the military."

According to the Fiji Times, Major Politini said the movements of the officers are being monitored because of allegations against them after the May coup by failed businessman George Speight.

He emphasized that the action was part of ongoing investigations "and nobody is charged with anything at this point."

Colonel Tarakinikini denied on Fiji Television last night that he was being held under house arrest.

"If I am under house arrest, I want to see it in writing," he said.

"I am a senior officer. I must be treated fairly like anybody else."

"I now understand what it is like when you are not guilty and you are suspected, and you feel like you’re being crucified. I now understand how unfair it is."

News media have been barred from today’s Magistrates Court preliminary hearing of treason charges against Speight and 14 of his alleged ringleaders on the prison isle of Nukulau off the coast of Suva.

The hearing, scheduled for the court on Monday, was deferred to a special court hearing on the island because of security fears after last Thursday’s mutiny, which claimed the lives of eight soldiers.

Meanwhile, the first sitting of Fiji's Court of Appeal since the May coup and the abrogation by the military of the 1997 multiracial constitution began yesterday with a declaration of the court’s independence.

New Zealand judge Sir Maurice Casey said the court hearing was "not to be taken as accepting or endorsing the legality of official acts that have occurred since it last sat."

Before the first case was called, Sir Maurice declared that the court was "sitting to help maintain the rule of law in Fiji."

"In doing so, we are not to be taken as accepting or endorsing the legality of the official acts that have occurred since it last sat. Nor should this statement be interpreted as a repudiation of the legality of such acts," he said.

Sir Maurice said those were "questions which may possibly arise for the decision of this court on some future occasion."

"If that were to happen, this court would need to hear full argument in open court before coming to any conclusion," he said.

The four-week session will include Australian judge Ken Hendley and Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Chief Justice Sir Mari Kapi.

Fiji’s Court of Appeal President Jai Ram Reddy resigned shortly after the military declared martial law on May 29 and seized control of the country.

The Fiji Sun reported that a postmortem after the death of prison escapee Alifereti Nimacere, who was shot by soldiers while being captured as part of the manhunt for rebels after the mutiny, had been completed and "police confirmed that foul play is suspected."

Police spokesperson Inspector Sera Bernhard was quoted by the newspaper as saying the report was with the Criminal Investigations Department acting director Emosi Vunisa for further investigation.

The Fiji Times reported that tension over the brutal killing of soldiers during the mutiny had forced police to engage a foreign pathologist.

Police confirmed that Monash University’s Dr. Stephen Cordner was engaged because of "pressure from the government pathologist."

CID acting director Vunisa said emotions were running high over news media stories about the alleged brutal manner in which some of the soldiers died.

Families were demanding the presence of lawyers and private doctors during autopsy examinations, he said.

Title -- 3095 FIJI: Military controls movement of suspect colonels Date -- 8 November 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- USP Journalism/Daily Post/Fiji Sun/Fiji Times/Radio Fiji/Fiji TV, 8/11/00 Copyright -- USP Journalism/Daily Post/Fiji Sun/Fiji Times/Radio Fiji/Fiji TV 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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