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FIJI: Talks break down again

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SUVA: Talks between Fiji's military and rebel leader George Speight's group have broken down again today - just half a day after four women hostages were released.

A Daily Post report on FijiLive website said that although it was not known why the talks over the Muanikau Accord - expected to be signed today - had broken down or when they would resume, sources had earlier revealed that most issues had been agreed upon.

The point of contention remains the military's decision to hand over power to the Great Council of Chiefs after three months, said the Daily Post.

The GCC would then appoint a President who would then appoint an interim administration.

Speight's group wants a President and interim administration, on which they want to serve, appointed straight away.

Earlier, army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini told the media negotiations with attempted coup leader George Speight's group would be easier if one man had a mandate.

He said that negotiating with a group made it difficult.

"You can't walk straight along a crooked path. That would probably be the best way to describe it," he said.

Speaking about the release of the women hostages early today, Lt Col Tarakinikini said it was probably a sign of goodwill on the part of the hostage takers.

He said that it seemed former Tourism Minister Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau, daughter of the ousted President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, had been released to allow her to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law, Ratu Viliame Dreunimisimisi on Tuesday.

Dreunimisimisi is from Kubuna confederacy which seems to be backing the coup, according to the Daily Post.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported today that more than 16,000 people had so far signed a petition showing their opposition to the illegal seizure of Parliament.

Tourism personality Mick Beddoes, who organised the petition, said many more collectors out in the field were sending large numbers of signatures.

Beddoes said the signing of the accord and the release of the hostages was only the beginning of the struggle.

"Regardless of how they structure a Parliament - short of making it a total Fijian institution - the events of May 19 will continue to repeat itself in the future in one form or another," he told the Sunday Times.

"The real objective is not indigenous rights, but elitist rights obtained through the barrel of the gun for the select few with vested interests."

+++niuswire

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