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Rabuka, Armed Forces Loyal To Mara

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By Joe Yaya USP Journalism Student

SUVA: Former coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka today declared that the dissident gunmen holding Fiji's elected government hostage were acting illegally and that he supported the constitutional government.

"I cannot be seen as a breaker of the constitution I put in place," he told reporters.

Mr Rabuka, Prime Minister of Fiji before being defeated in last year's general election, has emerged as the key mediator in trying to break the deadlock while the kidnapped government and MPs remain detained in Parliament.

The Fiji police and military forces also reaffirmed at a joint media conference today that they supported the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and said they would not take any orders from anybody else.

Police Commissioner Isikia Savua said the president was the sole legal authority in Fiji.

"It is to the President of Fiji that the police owe allegiance and take directives from now," he said.

"Fiji police will not accept any other instruction other than that of his exellency, Ratu Sir Kamisese."

The acting commander of the military forces, Colonel Alfred Tuatoka, also confirmed that the president remained commander-in-chief and the army was bound by the 1997 constitution.

Mr Rabuka had earlier asked self-styled head of state George Speight and the dissident civilian group which stormed Parliament yesterday to free the hostages, but they refused to do so.

He also said on national radio that, as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, he had called a meeting for Tuesday to inform the chiefs of the situation and get a response from them.

"There are provisions and avenues that we can follow to reach an agreement, but George Speight and his group will have to agree that the president is the supreme rule in the country," said Mr Rabuka.

"We cannot have two regimes in control.

"One will have to be dismantled," he said.

"I believe I am still chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Mara is still the President and the constitution is still in place," he added.

Meanwhile, the chiefs from the Ba confederacy, including the chiefs of Sabeto and Nadi, have condemned the actions of the dissident group, and pledged their support for Ratu Mara.


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