"IT COULD'VE BEEN A LOT WORSE": FIJI’S TORIKA RAWLINSON REGARDING

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MAY 2000

By Kelera Muavesi

SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 25, 2002 Wansolwara Newspaper-USP/Pasifik Nius)---"'It could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for the coup," claims putsch front man George Speight’s partner Torika Rawlinson.

"The night before the actual takeover, there were plans that the cabinet members of the deposed government were supposed to have been executed in their homes."

Rawlinson has spoken for the first time in an exclusive interview with Wansolwara, the USP journalism newspaper.

She gave details about how she’s coping with her life now that her partner is serving a life sentence for treason, how she is managing her sickly son, and some snippets of information about the attempted coup on May 19, 2000.

However, she skirted many of the tough questions about the takeover of Parliament by Speight and his gunmen who held the Mahendra Chaudhry Government hostage for 56 days.

Rawlinson maintained that truth "will set itself free." Some of the highlights of her claims in the interview:

§ Members of the deposed Mahendra Chaudhry government were to have been executed the night before the coup.

§ The march led to the riots in the city while the takeover was happening in Parliament.

§ Indian businessmen were not involved in the coup.

§ Rawlinson wasn’t aware of the coup because she was engrossed in her work as a graphic designer. She remembers talking to Speight on the phone, but the rest was "news" to her.

§ The coup days brought with it frightening experiences, especially regarding her own and her two-year-old son Ely’s safety.

§ It was "devastating" when she heard from her cousins that George Speight had been arrested.

The days after that brought changes to their life as a family. She left work and spent more time with her baby while Speight "gave his life to the

Lord".

She also turned to God for spiritual guidance.

"My parents are the greatest. They don’t agree with what George did but they have just been so good to Ely," she said.

Every time she visits Speight on his prison isle of Nukulau, they "pray together for those that have lost their loved ones or have been victimized" following the failed coup.

"We continually pray for them that in due time they will forgive."

[The full interview is in the April edition of Wansolwara, published today. See: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/index.html

Title -- 3589 POLITICS: 'It could've been a lot worse' – Torika Date -- 25 March 2002 Byline -- Kelera Muavesi Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wansolwara Online, 25/3/2 Copyright -- USP Journalism 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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