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Former Colonels Mara and Baledrokadroka to present paper

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 3, 2011) - A fugitive who is making headlines around the world is coming to Samoa sooner than expected.

Former Fiji military commander Ratu Tevita Mara will co-present a paper next week at the Samoa Conference II, hosted by the National University of Samoa.

The government’s Savali newspaper reports that Colonel Mara will be a co-presenter with another former Fiji colonel – now in exile in Australia – Jone Baledrokadroka.

The duo will present a paper called the Warrior King and Sacred Chief: The role of the military in Fiji’s politics.

The conference starts on Monday. When Colonel Mara will arrive in Samoa is not known.

But he has been making headlines around the world recently for his stance against Fiji coup leader, Frank Bainimarama.

Colonel Mara met Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in Canberra, two weeks ago.

"We showed him (Tuilaepa) our road map and what we’re going on about and he was happy," Colonel Mara said of the meeting. "He said well, he’s all for anything that supports a return to democratic rule in Fiji."

Colonel Mara praised PM Tuilaepa’s stance.

"He’s a supporter for pro-democracy. He’s been the original supporter for pro-democracy, that’s what he’s been doing all along ever since the coup happened in 2006.

He’s been supporting a return back to democratic government."

Participants at the 2nd International Conference on Samoa, known as the Samoa Conference II, will hear from Col Mara next week.

The conference provides a forum to bring together international and local academics, as well as leaders in business, government and nongovernmental organizations working to innovate the development of Samoa.

The keynote address will be delivered by the Head of State, His Highness, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.

Well-known and respected names who will also present papers include:

Participants include academics and practitioners from the United States, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific region as well as local leaders from the government, non-government, local business and cultural communities.

The forum aims to inform the public, debate developmental issues, inspire the youth of Samoa and empower emerging researchers.

The conference confirms the National University of Samoa’s role as agent of development and dissemination of knowledge in Samoa.

The First International Conference on Samoa was held in September 2002.

Among the presenters in the conference were the late Emeritus Professor Ron Crocombe (formerly of USP), Professor Guy Powles (Monash University), Professor Andrew Pawley (Australian National University), Associate Professor Helene Martison-Wallin (Gotland University, Sweden) to name a few.

Most of their papers were published in Volume 1 of the Journal of Samoan Studies.

The theme for the current Conference is "Tracing the footprints of tomorrow: past lessons, present stories, future lives." It focuses on the oft-cited wisdom that moving forward requires learning from the past.

Thematic areas include:

Culture, Religion and Indigenous Knowledge

Law, Social Justice and Globalization

Science, Technology and the Environment

Business and Entrepreneurship

Media and the Arts

Health and Political Governance


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