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FIJI: Coalition names ministers in conspiracy

FIJI: Coalition names ministers in alleged conspiracy

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/
USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/archive/coup.html USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook

SUVA: Three ministers in Fiji's military-backed interim administration have been implicated in an alleged conspiracy to illegally overthrow the People's Coalition government of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

While a wide-ranging Chaudhry interview with BBC television's "Hardtalk"

host Tim Sebastian revealed that he believed the military was "compromised" and a risk for any future elected government, the Coalition was holding a press conference in Suva yesterday calling for more arrests for treason.

At present, 21 rebels including their leader George Speight are charged with treason. There has been no previous treason case in the Fiji Islands and the crime currently carried the death penalty on the statutes, although executions were effectively removed under the now abrogated 1997 constitution.

On Fiji Television last night, Acting Police Commissioner Moses Driver confirmed that police were still investigating many other people over the May 19 insurrection and did not rule out the arrest of some chiefs.

The Daily Post reported today that the office of the Director of Public Prosecution would hire a Queen's counsel to "strengthen their case against George Speight and his henchmen".

According to the ousted Coalition ministers, a report in the Fijian language revealed the alleged role in a plan from the beginning of this year to overthrow the elected government.

Information Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Lands Minister Mitieli Bulanauca, and assistant minister in the Prime Minister's Office Adi Finau Tabakaucoro were implicated, according to media reports.

Ousted Deputy Prime Minister Adi Kuini Speed described the revelations at the press conference as a "bombshell which is very shocking".

According to the Fiji Sun, acting Coalition leader Dr Tupeni Baba opened

the the press conference highlighting the documents which set out an "elaborate plan" by the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) party of former coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka and a faction of the Vaetokani Lewenilotu Vakarisito (Christian Democratic Alliance) to topple the government.

The report was repared by the SVT management board on January 14 this year.

Tape recordings of the meetings were also gathered by the Coalition's intelligence unit, reported the Fiji Sun.

Dr Baba said all evidence had been handed to investigating police.

The report named Kubuabola, leader of the SVT and Opposition Leader in the ousted Parliament, and Bulanauca and Tabakaucoro, both also of the SVT, reported the Fiji Sun and Fiji Television.

Others who were allegedly involved in the secret meetings included the former president of the Methodist Church, Rev Manasa Lasaro; and his colleagues from the VLV, Ratu Josaia Rayawa, Josefa Vosanibla, Pita Tukana and Aselemo Vakadranu.

Named from the SVT in the Fiji Sun report were secretary Jone Banuve, Misaele Driubalavu, Vueti Logayau, Osea Serekeisoso and Joeli Naucabalavu.

The Fiji Sun also reported Dr Baba as questioning why lawyer Rakuita Vakalalabure had not been questioned for his alleged role with the rebels.

The document cited by the Coalition ministers recorded a meeting of January 14 in which the SVT and the faction of the VLV agreed on several

objectives:

* Abrogation of the multiracial 1997 constitution.

* Adoption of a new constitution similar to the 1990 constitution which entrenched indigenous Fijian supremacy, but with more Fijian seats.

* Recognition of Fiji as a "Christian state". (Almost half the population adhere to the Hindu or Muslim faiths).

* Declaration of Sunday as a day of rest.

The document also sought the overthrow of the Chaudhry government quickly before it "became too popular with the voters".

+++niuswire

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