RABUKA WILLING TO BE FIJI PM AGAIN

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 1, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Former Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is willing to be prime minister again -- if the job is offered to him.

His latest comments on the matter contradict remarks he made two months ago when Mr. Rabuka said he would not compete in the elections scheduled for August.

But the Fiji Times reports that Mr. Rabuka said he now is willing to work with Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, ousted in last year’s indigenous civilian coup attempt, and any other leader if the need arises.

He said his change of mind is due to the support of his constituents.

Mr. Rabuka rejects claims that he was involved in last year's May insurrection and the later attempted mutiny at Fiji's main military barracks in the capital.

In 1987 Mr. Rabuka, who was then ranked number three in the Fiji military, staged two successful coups.

He was prime minister until 1999 when he lost the election, under a new multi-racial constitution.

In 1999, Mahendra Chaudhry became the first Indo-Fijian to be elected prime minister.

The following year, he was deposed in a coup attempt headed by failed businessman George Speight.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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