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Speight Pardon Not On But Mine Ok, Says Rabuka

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SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Former Fiji coup maker and prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka says he does not deserve to be punished for his actions in 1987 as his coup succeeded, the Daily Post reports.

But, he says the country will see more coups if May 2000 frontman George Speight is pardoned.

In an editorial, the Daily Post warned that Fiji needed to get out of the "coup and gun culture", saying there was now a lot more violence in the country.

"We don't seem to have learnt much from the past though," the paper said.

"Just listen to the debate in Parliament. The lives of the people in whose name Rabuka and Speight acted are probably the same or worse [off] than before. Meanwhile, the rich have got richer.

"One thing we seem to agree on is that we don't need another gung-ho lieutenant-colonel or someone dreaming of a rags to riches scheme to stage another coup in the name of Fijian nationalism."

In the front page story by Mithleshni Gurdayal, Rabuka was quoted on the anniversary of his first coup on 14 May 1987 as saying the pardoning of Speight would be a catastrophe and the country would see more coups.

"I do not deserve to be punished because my coup was successful. I was the winner and I succeeded in my revolution and brought changes to the system," Rabuka told the Daily Post

"Speight failed in his coup and deserves to be punished," Rabuka said.

He said last night Fiji "will continue to have uncertainty until people change their attitude and follow the rule of law".

Rabuka said the pardon Speight for his attempted coup on 19 May 2000 would set a "dangerous precedent".

He said Fiji had gone through some major political and social changes since his military coups 15 years ago.

"We have had ups and downs since the first coup to 1999 where we had a government which had to battle its way in the 12 months it was in office and then we had 2000 - the unrest which evolved from the repercussions of Mahendra Chaudhry-led government," he said.

"And now we are all tightening our belts. Everyone is struggling with the economy that is suffering.

"We are not out of the woods as yet. And if we pardon Speight, then we are calling for more political unrest."

Rabuka stressed that no foreign or local would invest in Fiji, "if Speight was released".

Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said Fiji had a coup culture that started on 14 May 1987.

And since then the country had seen three coups, which had taken the country back 30 years, he said.

Chaudhry is one of the leaders who was held hostage twice by coup makers, first by Rabuka in 1987 and then by Speight in 2000.


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