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Military Confirms Reports Of Unrest


Issue No: 877 23 June 2001

The military has confirmed reports of rumours of unrest in Suva city and the military barracks.

An AF report states:

The army has stepped up security at its headquarters following strong rumours of further "unrest" in the city and at the Queen Elizabeth barracks, its media spokesman said.

In a short statement, Ned Taito said the army went on full alert following reports of another attack on the barrack similar to a mutiny that broke out on November 2 last year which resulted in the death of eight soldiers and serious injury to many others.

"The RFMF confirms that reports on rumours of unrest within Suva City and Queen Elizabeth Barracks on Thursday were received from concerned members of the public.

"The RFMF did go on full alert as was alleged by certain parties and normal security measures remained in force at all RFMF installations," Taito said.

At the same time, units based at the barracks were advised to take whatever additional measures they "deemed necessary" to secure the barracks.

It is believed tension at the camp is high following reports of a rebellion but an army source told AFP a "criminal" connected with the rumours was taken into the camp and beaten up for spreading reports of unrest.

Threats of further unrest, following months of an uneasy peace, has surfaced as Police investigators tighten up the net on chiefs, politicians, senior army officers and businessmen allegedly involved in the coup of May 19 when armed special forces men led by George Speight invaded parliament and took hostage Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and members of his government.

Late last week, Speight's high chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata was arrested and charged with inciting mutiny at the army barracks and involvement with the events of May 19.

Police investigator ASP Waisea Tabakau warned this week that current cabinet ministers of the caretaker administration, five high chiefs of the Great Council of Chiefs, 10 Indian businessmen, army officers and civil servants were under probe, some of whom were to be charged shortly.

"One big fish is caught but some other big ones are still enjoying the open air but the law is above everyone and whoever had a hand will face the full brunt of the law," he said.

Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who staged Fiji's first coup in 1987 as a senior army officer is still under investigation for his alleged role in last year's political unrest. So is Lt-Col Filipe Tarakinikini who rose to international fame as army spokesman during the months of unrest following the May 19 coup and a number of other senior army officers suspected of being sympathetic to George Speight.

Police claim certain ethnic Indian businessmen, unhappy with Chaudhry's reformist policies, either financed the coup or provided supplies to the rebels in parliament during the hostage crisis.

END


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