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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 29, 2001 – FijiLive)---Former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara told Fiji TV last night that he had told former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Police Commissioner Isikia Savua that they had something to do with George Speight's attempted coup on May 19 last year.

Mara said he made the comments on May 20 in the presence of Rabuka, Savua and acting army commander Colonel Alfred Tuatoko.

Asked about the two's reaction, Mara said: "You could see it on their faces."

He said Rabuka said something about being at the army camp on May 14, the anniversary of the 1987 coup.

Rabuka had called Mara on the day of the coup, saying he was ready to help. He had asked him to see him later that day.

Savua, he said, was at a meeting with Jioji Konrote, the permanent secretary for Home Affairs, on the Thursday before the march, but he didn't see a heavy police presence at Parliament or on the streets during the march.

Mara said the police should have known what was going to happen through their intelligence.

The former president also called the 1987 coup "disgusting."

Rabuka had earlier suggested Mara knew about it, but Mara denied it, saying "it was convenient for him to think so."

He said the relationship between him and Rabuka had never been good and that Rabuka showed in the seven years he was in charge that he couldn't run a government.



SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 29, 2001 – FijiLive)---Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Police Commissioner Isikia Savua have both denied being behind George Speight's attempted coup on May 19 last year.

They were reacting to comments by former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara on Fiji TV last night that he told both of them they were involved in the putsch.

Rabuka said his involvement was restricted to that as mediator. He said Mara's comments were linked to reports given to him that said Rabuka had met the CRW soldiers on May 14 and that some of them had trained on his farm in Cakaudrove.

Savua said he was not involved. "I will never support a coup."

He said a lot of things were promised for Fijians when the 1987 coup was staged, but "nothing much has happened. I was in the army when the 1987 coup was carried out and I have seen what the coup has done."



SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 29, 2001 – FijiLive)---Former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara told Fiji TV last night that he was asked to step aside as president by a group of senior army officers, but he still does not know why.

Mara said there was a rumor that the mob at Parliament was going to get him after trashing Fiji TV's offices on a Sunday.

He said his son had organized a group of 80 people to protect him and "there were enough people to put on a good show."

So he was surprised when he was told by his secretary, Jo Browne, that he was going to be evacuated. He said to this day, he isn't sure why Browne got him evacuated.

He said his family was taken to the navy jetty at Walu Bay and put on the naval ship Kiro. The boat anchored in the passage before going towards Beqa after a boat suspected of carrying dynamite was seen nearby.

He said nothing happened the next day until late evening when a group comprised of former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Police Commissioner Isikia Savua, former army commander Ratu Epeli Ganilau and commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and four army officers, including Colonel Ulaisi Vatu and Colonel Ioane Naivalarua, came to see him.

He said the group asked him to step aside.

Mara said he was calm and unexcited and did not say anything because the group was giving in to Speight's demands and these were army officers.

Asked if he couldn't have sacked them as commander-in-chief, Mara asked: "Who was going to resist them? If I had sacked them, then what? It would have been an exercise in futility."

He said they knew he was the commander-in-chief and they should have known how to behave, but he went along because they said they wanted to avoid bloodshed.

He accused Rabuka and some members of the group of being behind moves to remove him. But he said he had no desire to come back.



SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 29, 2001 – FijiLive)---Deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was arrogant, former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara said on Fiji TV last night.

But he could have been one of the best prime ministers Fiji ever had if someone had given him "a stern warning not to be arrogant."

Mara said he had warned Chaudhry about land. "Don't touch land for two years. When they think you are an angel, then touch other things." But he said Chaudhry may have been swayed later by advice from other people.

Mara said Chaudhry's manifesto was good and would have done more for the Fijian people than other races. He said people of all races had voted for Chaudhry's coalition.

"I did not think he went wrong," said Mara.

For additional reports from FijiLive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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