FIJI KIDNAP ATTEMPT: WHO WAS THE MAIN TARGET? PM QARASE, COMMODORE

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BAINIMARAMA OR IS THIS EXPLANATION A MERE COVER-UP?

By Rodney Duthie

SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 6, 2002 - Sun)---More disturbing scenarios have emerged from the aborted attempt to kidnap senior Government members and the military head.

Sources close to the investigation into the sinister plot believe its perpetrators had used the release of coup front man George Speight and his close advisors currently detained on Nukulau Island as a mere "cover-up."

Sources said a leading police investigator was investigating the possibility that the real target was Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the plotters were dissenting officers in the military.

Sources argued if the intention was really to get Speight and his advisers on Nukulau freed, than Speight’s people in Naivicula, Tailevu, would have known about the plot and probably also played a part in getting him freed.

However, none of those arrested in connection with the foiled kidnap attempt, except dairy farmer Varinava Tiko, hail from Tailevu.

Mr. Tiko has had all the charges that were leveled against him dropped and he has also offered to be a State witness.

It’s believed police have offered to protect Mr. Tiko’s family.

Real motives for the kidnap plot range from the elimination of the army commander, whom some in the military dislike for his stand on the rule of law, to sheer greed and the protection of the vested interests of a certain few.

Commodore Bainimarama, however, said the military "was clean" and felt secure from the grasp of people wanting to get him.

He said the demobilization of soldiers would continue, as it was part of the military’s agreement with Government.

"But if the Government feels these soldiers need to be retained in light of what has happened, then we will have to absorb these men back," Commodore Bainimarama said.

Mr. Tiko, on the other hand, was back in his village yesterday, clearly relieved and happy to be with his family at a dairy farm near Korovou Town in Tailevu.

Mr. Tiko, who said he was a changed man soon after he was freed, yesterday reiterated that he did not want to play any part in the attempted kidnap from the start.

He said, "I did not want my family to be disturbed by all this and that is why I want us to get on with our lives."

For additional reports from the Fiji Sun, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Sun.

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