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Citizens Forum Calls For Coup Inquiry

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SUVA: Fiji's Citizens Constitutional Forum has called for an investigation into interim Information Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola's alleged role in the May putsch.

In a statement by the forum's executive director, Rev Akuila Yabaki highlighted Ratu Inoke's role in the 1987 coups and his close links with the Taukei Movement which mounted the destabilisation campaign leading to rebel frontman George Speight's hostage-taking in Parliament on May 19.

The 16-nation Pacific Forum on Friday condemned the use of force to overthrow constitutionally-elected governments and hailed the move by Fiji authorities to charge the coup leaders with treason.

In a fullpage interview with the Fiji Times today, Rev Yabaki defended the 1997 multiracial constitution and explained the role of the citizens forum in education and seeking constitutional solutions to the crisis.

Asked about a statement by interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's administration claiming the forum was of "no use", Rev Yabaki said the administration was "not constitutional itself so it has no basis on which it stands".

"It's based on the Muanikau Accord, which is not a respectable accord of moving in to the future, because the discussion began when the hostages were not freed and that's a very unhealthy way of talking about peace and reconciliation in the country.

"That accord has failed because arms have still not been returned, and it's unfortunate some of the people who were part of the crisis, who have been named publicly, are in the government.

"They should not be freed from the probe that is to be undertaken.

"They even have a spokesman who is a perilous spokesman - it does not help their cause to have a spokesman like Ratu Inoke Kubuabola because he himself was a participant in what has happened in the crisis."

In the statement by the citizens forum, Rev Yabaki said: "The Taukei Movement in opposition to the deposed goverment knows Ratu Inoke as one of the leaders who initiated the destabilisation activities."

"His attack on smart sanctions is understandable as he himself could be listed [on the banned blacklists]."

Rev Yabaki said the Qarase administration would invite problems by including Ratu Inoke as Information Minister.

He also called for the removal of Ratu Inoke from government as the minister's stand was inconsistent with his previous support for the 1997 constitution.

News media reporting Rev Yabaki's comments were unable to get Ratu Inoke's response.

In other developments:

* The Fiji Times reported that rebels on the run from security forces continued to change their hideouts in the rugged interior of Viti Levu island.

The rebels - deserting members of the military Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Unit and escaped convicts - are wanted for the murder of a policeman and a soldier last week.

* The military will not allow the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) to resume operations at Monasavu after the $52 million deal with landowners until all weapons have been returned and the dam area is cleared of possible explosives.

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