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Bune Implicates Politicians In Fiji Rebellion

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SUVA: Fiji's deposed Agriculture, Fisheries and Lands Minister Poseci Bune today implicated several political personalities as players in the May insurrection and claimed that George Speight was not the real rebel leader.

Interviewed by the Fiji Sun in its regular "hardtalk" political profile series, he described events immediately after the armed seizing of Parliament and the Chaudhry government as hostages.

He said a motion was moved at a meeting at Parliament after the takeover that 1987 coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka should be appointed as the new president for the regime "which was agreed to unanimously".

In an editorial, the newspaper said today: "There is now no doubt about the fact that there should be a probe into the May 19 takeover. No stone must be left unturned.

"Those responsible for the takeover must face the brunt of the law."

According to Bune, Speight told the hostages there were "people very high up well known to us, and he said 'you will be surprised'".

"In fact, when [Speight and six special forces gunmen] walked into Parliament on May 19 they were busy tying us up after [Speight] had dismissed the Speaker after allowing [MP Ratu Timoci] Silatolu to leave," Bune said.

"Then he indicated to us he was waiting for the leader of the coup to arrive.

"So we had to wait about 40 minutes as he was answering calls, and at the same time making calls, and telling us that we would be surprised that he is not the leader, as the real leader would arrive for us to see him.

"But then he got another call.

"Then he turned to us and said: 'I think he is going to be late. Well, I'll have to take it on from here'.

"There was someone else coming, but he didn't turn up.

"But I realised that his [the coup "leader"] failure to turn up meant that there was a big hiccup, or something had gone wrong in the operation.

"I could only guess that the turning up of that mysterious man may have depended on whether the army was behind [the coup] or not.

"Maybe, when the army was not in a position to support the coup, this 'man' backed out immediately and left these guys in limbo."

Named as being present at a planning meeting with Speight and the rebels at Parliament on the first day of the coup were then Opposition Leader Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, who is now Information Minister in the military-backed interim administration.

Others named included a former Foreign Minister, Berenado Vunibobo; Speight's father Sam Speight; Isireli Leweniqila; nationalists Iliesa Duvuloco and Taukei Movement leader Apisai Tora, now also a minister in the interim government.

According to Bune, non-politicians included Native Lands Trust Board general manager Maika Qarikau; Lieutenant-Colonel Ilaitia Caginavanua; Ratu Tevita Bukarau; former intelligence chief Metuisela Mua; media adviser Jo Nata and rebel military strategist Ilisoni Ligairi.

The Fiji Sun said in its editorial: "The fact that a high profile person like Mr Bune is prepared to go on record about allegations pinpointing major players behind hostage-taker George Speight is cause for concern.

"It confirms early fears that Mr Speight could have been a front for faceless figures.

"It drives through the fear that there could be a bigger catch behind him."

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