World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Military Commander Says Speight Will Go Free

See updates and pictures: / (temporarily offline)

© USP journalism programme

SUVA: Fiji's rebel leader George Speight has committed a "criminal act" in seizing the elected government hostage but will go free, says military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Speaking on BBC World television, Commodore Bainimarama said: "George Speight led a criminal act."

He added that the military could not be seen to be negotiating with the rebels, saying it would damage the credibility of the Royal Fiji Military Forces which was well-known for its international peacekeeping role.

However, a four member military negotiating team yesterday had a meeting with Speight's negotiation group at the Pacific Theological College yesterday in what was described by the rebels as "fruitful and progressive" talks.

Former military commander Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was named by the military authorities as the proposed prime minister to the head the interim military government's council of ministers.

Other ministers were expected to be named this morning.

Ratu Epeli, son of former Deputy Prime Minister Ratu Edward Cakobau, headed the military when Sitiveni Rabuka ousted the Labour-led coalition government of Dr Timoci Bavadra in 1987.

He is married to Adi Koila, who was former Tourism Minister and is still held hostage along with about 30 other members of the Chaudhry government. She is the daughter of the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

On BBC World, Commodore Bainimarama said the amnesty promised to Speight had been made by the president - who stood aside when martial law was declared and the military took over power on Monday night - seven days earlier and he would honour that pledge.

Asked if this meant that Speight would go free over the kidnapping of the government, Commodore Bainimarama replied yes.

But he added: "I'm sorry to say that."

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said on the same news programme that this was "totally unpalatable", adding that it was a well recognised principle never to negotiate or give concessions to terrorists.

"Every demand has been complied with and he [Speight] still wants more," Goff said.

Goff said the real power struggle was between indigenous Fijian groups and "ultimately, Indians will be the final victims".

The Daily Post today reported that five of Speight's gunmen, including a self-styled minister, Simione Kaitani, had been arrested and beaten up by soldiers and police on Monday night.

One of those arrested was treated at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital for a fractured nose he suffered in the beatings.

Three of the arrested men were reported to be members of the elite First Meridian Squadron who took part in the seizure of Parliament on May 19.

A government spokesman told the Daily Post: "Those arrested got what they deserved."

Speight's media spokesman Jo Nata was also among those arrested and the detained men are reported to be locked up in cells at the Central Police Station, Suva.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news