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NEWSFLASH: News Of The Fiji Coup

The following reports on the Coup in Fiji were received by Scoop this afternoon. The reports were originally carried on Fiji Radio and the Fijilive.com website.

FM 96 (Fiji radio)
1.15pm

A press conference is being held in by the armed men who took over parliament. Their demands are not known at the moment and will be available as soon as the conference is over.

1.20pm

Just a few minutes ago, George Speight, the man claiming to have executive powers over Fiji gave a press statement. Following is his speech.

"I want to make clear that these actions set forth the foundations for change once and for all in the affairs of the country of Fiji as desired by the indigenous people of Fiji in their desire to achieve self-determination and control of their future destiny in all matters pertaining to their livelihood and and the affairs of the Republic of the Fiji Islands.

When we executed our actions this morning, there were a small number of us but as I speak and as I sit to make these announcements to you I speak on behalf of every individual member of the indigenous Fijian community.

Through these actions I am asserting ownership, am asserting control and I am asserting executive power over Fiji. We have revoked the Constitution and have set that aside. We have revoked the powers of the President of the republic of Fiji. The executive control of this country of ours currently resides in my hands.

I will make a further press statement in half an hour and in that I shall be announcing the make-up of an interim government of ministers who'll serve and run the affairs of Fiji to determine the long, short and medium term plans of the country.

George Speight is coup leader

George Speight, former chairman of Fiji Pine Ltd and Fiji Hardwood Corporation Ltd and ex-managing director of Heath (Fiji) Ltd, has announced he has taken over executive power.

Speight was among a group of civilians that took over Fiji's Parliament House this morning. Speight is the son of SVT Tailevu MP, Sam Speight.

He was part of a group of people that forcefully entered Parliament at around 10 am and took over government. This is the third coup in Fiji's history. Unlike 1987, when it was the military that moved in, today's group consisted of boys in three-quarter shorts, wielding rifles and pistols.

The coup happened simultaneously as a protest march by thousands of Fijians through the capital city. They converged at Government House, resident of Fiji's president, Ratu Sir Kamises Mara, to present a petition to him. Mara is in Lau.

Iliesa Duvuloco, senior party member of the Vanua Tako Lavo party, then addressed the crowd and announced there that Parliament had just been taken over.

The crowd then ran up to Veiuto Hill, where Parliament is located. There were no military personnel in sight, with police officers guarding the main entrance to the House.

With reggae music playing loudly from carrier trucks bearing crowds of Fijians, march participants then danced and cheered in front of the Parliamentary complex.

Riots, looting in Suva

Fijian youths and young men have began a rampage through Fiji's capital city after Parliament was taken over this morning. Several shops, including the Tappoos Dutyfree Shop and Jacks Handicrafts, have apparently had their windows smashed.

Several shops are on fire.

Jewellery shops along Cumming Street had earlier closed for business before the protest march this morning, clearing all their stock.

7 hold PM, Cabinet in Parliament siege

Seven civilian armed people with AK-47s have locked the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers in the upper chamber of the Fiji's Parliament. One man is standing at the gate and not letting anyone in. Some shots were fired but it is not clear at this stage whether anyone is hurt. Our reporters are at the scene and will file an update soon.

5000 Nationalists march to Parlt

About 5000 people who started a protest march in the streets of Suva against the government of Mahendra Chaudhry have now started marching towards Parliament. The march started peacefully at 10 am. Our reporters will keep you updated on the progress.

(continuing….)

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