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MEWS RELEASE April 24, 2001


The Daily Post’s Acting Editor Mesake Koroi has named Sitiveni Rabuka, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Apisai Tora, Ratu Osea Gavidi, Adi Litia Cakobau, Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, Ratu Talemo Ratakele and Jim Ah Koy as persons who are associated with the attempted coups of last year.

He stated in his column yesterday:

"Now don’t get me wrong. I am not at all suggesting that these men and woman were the instigators of George Speight’s coup that toppled [Chaudhry’s] Coalition government. Let me make it very clear at the outset, I am not at all saying that. What I am simply saying is that in almost all the discussions around the tanoa that my guru Daucina and I have attended, these names keep cropping up in the course of conversations regarding the coup and politics in general.

"But of course there is no concrete evidence at all to support these claims or put any flesh to the skeletons of the numerous coup theories being bandied around. Pure speculation I suppose.

"The other school of thought is that because some of these people were also associated with Rabuka’s coup in 1987, naturally, people take it for granted they were also involved in the civilian takeover in May 2000. Again pure speculation.

"Regardless of the dearth of concrete evidence, the question still remains, how innocent are these people? I suppose we will never know until that man on Nukulau Island, George Speight, decides to write book and tell all. However, that may take a long time yet.

"But if anyone of these people had left himself wide open for speculation it’s Rabuka. The events that took place soon after the civilian take over prominently featuring military men and equipment and the failed mutiny at the military camp on November 21 last year, got people talking about the possibility of Rabuka’s involvement.

"Within minutes after George marched into Parliament, Rabuka appeared on the scene wanting to talk to George. Soon after that he went to Government House and asked the then President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, to appoint him as the new army commander in place of Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who was away overseas. Of course Ratu Sir Kamisese, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, refused the request. Instead, he asked Rabuka to be the go-between Parliament and Government House as the standoff intensified. But that sort of died a natural death when Ratu Sir Kamisese agreed to stand aside while the army took control of the situation.

"He was the one who advised Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s military council that the 1997 Constitution could be abrogated when the military council had wanted to only suspend the constitution until the stand-off in Parliament was resolved. According to Daucina, Rabuka at a meeting between Police Commissioner Isikia Savua and senior military officers, called aside a senior officer and asked him where he stood in all these. He repeated his desire to be the army commander. It became obvious that Rabuka knew that to resolve the parliamentary siege, a military solution was to be found. He saw himself as the savior of democracy and in the process a way to regain power. Even his movements immediately after the November 2 mutiny at the army camp, Rabuka seemed to know everything that was going on. Was he innocently/conveniently being at the right place at the right time? I suppose so. But he was lucky to get out of that situation alive. The rest is history.

"Again, I say he may be as innocent as a baby’s bum. And he offered his services to mediate through the goodness of his heart. If that is the case and if he gets rewarded or something out of it, all well and good.

"As I have always maintained, Rabuka is a strategist and a good one at that. But he seems to have over played his cards in this entire exercise. If he was indeed involved, he was too eager and the process became careless and left himself open to criticism and became a subject of rife speculation.

"But I say don’t write the man off, not yet anyway. Hunters know a wild boar is at its most dangerous when it is wounded simply because it’s a matter of survival. It doesn’t fight; it dies. Rabuka is a fighter. He will come back time and again to win back lost pride.

His latest move to solicit support and perhaps help through the "moderate forum" among Adi Kuini Speed, Dr. Baba and Ponipate Lesavua is the start of his comeback trail. You will now see a different Rabuka - a Rabuka who is preaching moderation, the upholding of the law and the 1997 Constitution -- the very document he had advised the military council to abrogate."

"The big question then is how innocent this man really is?"


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