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Military still negotiating; dissent not over

Military still negotiating; dissent not over
Issue No: 170; 3 November 2000

The military continues to be faced with internal dissent. While the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit, which led the takeover of the military barrack in Suva yesterday are on the run, internally the military still seems to be thoroughly divided.

Yesterday a radio station reported that there was confusion on the camp after the rebels fled with soldiers loyal to the Commander not sure who was on who's side. Today's newspaper reports Lt Tarakinikini, whom the media portrayed as a hero, as saying that he did not want to go near the barracks because it might be thought that he was with the rebels.

Yesterday all soldiers and territorial force personnel in the Western Division were recalled. Some checkpoints in the West have been closed and soldiers withdrawn to the barracks. The military's, Commander Western, Henry Manulevu refused to answer questions by the media on where were the checkpoint soldiers re-deployed. He also informed the media that they knew what was happening at the Suva barracks; their phone lines, including mobile phones, were cut off from Wednesday night, which they believed was because of non-payment of bills.

It is understood that most of the western soldiers have been taken to the Suva barracks to provide additional support to Commander Bainimarama as there is a lot of suspicion in the military that sections of the lower ranks have pro-rebel sympathies.

The military's spokesperson, Howard Politini told the media today that "the negotiations" today by lunch time did not reach to the point of discussing the demands of the rebels.

The fact that there are negotiations continuing indicate that rebel sympathy is strong within the military. Rumours of a coup have been strong for weeks now.

It is understood that the takeover of the military camp was a part of plans for a coup to depose the interim regime.

The Qarase regime has maintained power because of strong support from Commander Bainimarama. The regime is now under strong pressure to see that the terrorists taking over the government on May 19 be severely dealt with by the law. The unwillingness of the Interim President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to nominate his Vice President as Acting President seems to have been interpreted as dashing the hopes of the terrorists, including the suspended Police Commissioner, for their freedom.

Yesterday former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka had gone to the military barracks to bring the parties to the table. He told the Fiji Times that he had "probably arrived too late" to do this. Rabuka had also assumed the role of negotiator on May 19 with the terrorists but was rebuked by the terrorists as being "too late".

END 3 November 2000

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