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Schools To Remain Closed, More Trouble Expected

Schools To Remain Closed Tomorrow; More Trouble Expected

Issue No: 178; 5 November 2000

The schools in the Suva, Nasinu, Nausori, Lami and Korovou areas are to remain closed tomorrow because of security problems.

The interim regime Education Minister issued this order this afternoon after consultation with the interim Home Affairs minister, Ratu Talemo Rakatale.

It is expected that there will be an ongoing military operation in arresting the rebels still on the lose and others outside who were involved with the attempted assassination of the military commander and the attempted coup on Thursday 2 November.

Meanwhile the military's spokesperson, Major Howard Politini told Fiji TV's Close-Up program this evening that there were outsiders who were behind the uprising on Thursday. He was answering questions on who could it be that would command so much authority over the soldiers that the soldiers would start shooting their colleagues.

Politini also stated that the activities of 19 May and 2 November were linked.


Savua Cleared

Issue No: 177; 5 November 2000

Suspended Police Commissioner Isikia Savua has been cleared of all charges.

Tonight's Fiji TV news report stated that the report of the Savua Inquiry was handed to the Interim President who has asked the Public Service Commission to advice him on the options left. Three options were referred to. These were immediate reinstatement and its ramifications into the 19 May terrorist investigations; posting elsewhere, and overseas mission assignment.

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The Savua investigation report has not been made public yet. The TV obtained a leaked memo addressed to the PSC by the Interim President's Office.

The People's Coalition government has expressed shock at the findings. It is seeking a copy of the report before full comments can be made.

The Fiji Consumer Association has expressed concern at the inquiry findings. The Association had made a thorough submission with full evidence of dates, times, and names to the Board of Inquiry. Some parts of the submissions were leaked to the Media. Other evidences were provided to the media (see posting no: 70 for some evidences against Savua made public).

Earlier, we had speculated that gradually all those involved with the terrorist takeover of the Parliament were being gradually freed (see posting Nos. 163, 156, 149). The Savua findings confirm the trend.

Another serious concern is the statement by the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Reconciliation, Lt. Jeremaia Waqanisau on Saturday that the investigation into the May 19 terrorist activities is providing an obstacle to the process of reconciliation. The statement was carried by one of the local radio stations. He further stated that the primary objective of the ministry was fostering (ethnic) Fijian unity. Interim regime Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase is also the Minister for National Reconciliation. Coming just days after the attempted coup on Thursday, the statement provides a strong hint that those behind the attempt were those who were being investigated.


Chiefs involved in attempted coup

Issue No: 176; 5 November 2000

Pro-Speight chiefs and a senior army officer apparently planned the November 2 take-over of the military barracks.

Today's Daily Post reports that 3 members of the Great Council of Chiefs and a senior army officer have been identified as the perpetrators of the attempted coup. The paper states that the revelations came from a rebel soldier now hospitalised. The Post quotes its source as saying: "The plan to overthrow Commodore Bainimarama was hatched at a house in Laucala Beach Estate n Suva on Wednesday night. The soldiers were informed of that decision soon after and the rest is now history. The three GCC members were reportedly at this meeting along with the senior army officer".

The Daily Post further quotes a government source as saying that 2 of the GCC members are known supporters of terrorist George Speight while the third played an instrumental role during the 19 May takeover. The source states: "The rebel soldiers were poisoned into thinking that they were actually doing it for their infamous unit [CRW]". The source told Daily Post that the chiefs and the army officer "are scared the investigations into May 19 is closing in on them. The only way to get out of the mess that they brought onto themselves is to get rid of the person that can see them prosecuted."

The Post uses the term "the attempt to kill Commodore Bainimarama", while the Fiji Times uses the terms "assassination plot against" and "attempted assassination" of Bainimarama.

Meanwhile, the military has identified a co-leader of the rebels as Captain Shane Stevens, who became the head of the CRW after 19 May. The other leader identifies is Serupepeli Dakai, who was involved with the terrorist takeover of the Parliament Complex.


Rabuka to be investigated for attempted coup

Issue No: 175; 5 November 2000

Leader of the 1987 military coup and former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is under investigation for his role in the 2 November attempted coup.

According to media reports today, General Rabuka has been banned from entering any military establishment in the country. Rabuka was found giving a ride to one of the rebels who participated in the Thursday shootout at the army camp. His government-provided vehicle was stopped at a military check point where soldiers found rebel soldier Warrant Officer Apaitia Waqaniboro in the vehicle. He was detained. Rabuka reportedly complained to the Home Affairs Ministry about the treatment he got and reported that the soldiers took his mobile phone. Soldiers denied taking the phone.

Today's Daily Post reports that Rabuka had picked up Waqaniboro at the military camp when he went there to negotiate for the release of the hostages kept by the rebel soldiers shortly before the loyalist soldiers stormed in.

Today's Fiji Times quotes Rabuka as saying that the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked him to negotiate for the release of the hostages.

The military had rejected any negotiation with the rebels and did not want Rabuka at the Barracks. He apparently went through the gate which was under the control of the rebels at that time.

The Fiji Times quotes Rabuka as saying that at the camp he met and talked with one Col. Pat Hennings, Lt. Charles Dakuiliga, and WO Waqaniboro. He later spoke to Col. Raduva who asked Rabuka to leave the camp. Rabuka stated: " I then said take care and please don't be harsh. But by then it was too late as two soldiers were dead and several others injured. I had hoped that when they entered the camp, they would remain objective and not get angry."

Rabuka currently is the chairperson of the Great Council of Chiefs. He led the SVT, together with its Coalition partners the NFP and the UGP into a dismal loss in the 1999 elections.

On 19 May, Rabuka had also assumed the role of a negotiator until President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara rejected him for suspicions that he was with the terrorists. A week before the 2 November attempted coup, Rabuka had commented on the acting presidentship of Fiji when the Interim President was going to be on medical leave. Soon after 3 journalists were hurled in by the army for reporting that the army will not accept the Interim Vice-President, Ratu Jope Seniloli, a Speight man and SVT President, becoming the Acting President. The military tried to get the source of the story aired by the radio.

Rumours of another coup had been rife in Fiji during the weeks leading to the 2 November attempt. Suspicions of Rabuka's (and Savua's) involvement in both, the 19 May and the 2 November attempts have been around the grog-bowl. Rabuka had established the CRW as a special unit within the military. Now the military holds that the reputation of the unit exceeded its ability.

The Deputy Prime Minister in the People's Coalition Government, Adi Kuini Speed has warned of a possible civil war in Fiji if justice did not prevail and the 1997 reinstated.


Nimacere killed

Issue No: 174; 4 November 2000

Notorious prison escapee turned terrorist, Alifereti Nimacere, was killed last night at his home village of Nadonumai just a few kilometres out of central Suva.

The military said that Nimacere was armed and fired at the soldiers when the soldiers went to Nadonumai settlement. He died in the encounter. The media speculates that the soldiers killed Nimacere.

Nimacere escaped from the prison in mid July and had successfully evaded the army and police until yesterday evening.

He was reportedly with the group which had ambushed a military police team in August which killed a soldier and a policeman. He was also seen with Parliament Complex terrorist Tevita Poese in Lautoka last weekend. It is believed that Nimacere and Poese were on their way to the military barracks to join the rebels on Thursday.

It has also been speculated that Nimacere and Poese, together with other terrorists, were planning to assassinate numerous key figures. Their targets is speculated to include the military commander Frank Bainimarama, President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Interim President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the People's Coalition Prime Minister and three of his ministers, and the General-Secretary of the FTUC.


Army Commander was warned of plans to depose govt.

Issue No: 173; 3 November 2000

The Commander of the Military Forces, Commodore Frank Bainimarama was informed of the possibility of a coup before 19 May.

Today's Fiji Sun states that the warning came from the Fiji Intelligence Service.

The allegations are attributed to former army lieutenant and FIS member, Serupepeli Dakai who allegedly led the mutiny and the attempted coup on 2 November.

Dakai was a key functionary in the Speight terrorist group. On the day of the fatal shoot-out at the Parliament Complex on July 4, Dakai stormed in the room where the ethnic Indian hostages were kept telling them angrily that the army's action (in engaging in the shoot out) showed that it did not care for the lives of the hostages or the terrorists.

Some days after the release of the hostages, Dakai gave himself up and was questioned by the military Board of Inquiry before being sent to Nukulau detention. At the Inquiry, reports the Fiji Sun, Dakai reportedly lashed out at the military commander for inaction after being informed of the planned overthrow of the elected government. It is believed that this encounter "was the onset of his dislike for the army chief".

The military believes that Dakai was the suspected leader of the group which led the rebels on 2 November.


Outsiders knew rebels plans - Army Commander

Issue No: 171; 3 November 2000

Some people outside the military knew what was to happen on Thursday, says the Commander of the Fiji Military Forces, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

According to a radio news broadcast tonight, Bainimarama gave a statement today where he expressed distress at the "extremely rebellious" actions of his soldiers yesterday. He stated that the soldiers reacted because of his decision to disband the First Meridian Squadron, the official name of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Unit.

The CRW unit was established by Sitiveni Rabuka some years after his military coup. Today's Fiji Times states that George Speight called the head of the unit, Ilisoni Ligairi on the morning of 19 May asking for his support to carry out a coup. The newspaper quoted Liqairi as saying: "I told him that I was ready and called 30 of my boys and we moved down to Parliament". The Fiji Labour Party had criticised the regime for establishing this unit when it was formed years back.

Late last year, the military justified an additional request of about $0.6m by saying:

"This is the Special Force unit responsible for counter terrorist task. This is quite different from anti-terrorist task which is more passive and is a police responsibility. The unit requires a lot of specialist dedicated equipment and training in order to be able to meet its role.. Everybody expects this unit to be there at the highest readiness level should the nation need it. However very few understand the enormous resources and human effort that is required over long time to raise, sustain and maintain a unit like this. Of all RFMF units this has to be at the highest readiness level around the clock. The existence of this unit is in line with the Peoples Coalition manifesto of providing security for all its citizens. This is the RFMF unit that will respond directly to terrorist situations that is beyond the police capability to handle."

According to Bainimarama, he had dismantled this unit. 30 of the same unit's members became terrorists when they invaded the Parliament on 19 May and held the government hostage for 56 days.

In his statement tonight, Bainimarama praised for the good progress towards re-establishing democracy in Fiji.


Civil war likely

Issue No: 171; 3 November 2000

Fiji could be heading towards a civil war, warns, Adi Kuini Vuikaba Speed.

In a statement, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Fijian Affairs in the People's Coalition Government, Adi Kuini stated: "This is the a beginning and if not taken seriously and handled fairly, a civil war is what we are heading towards". She further said: "The military and the interim administration should not take the military's success in stopping the shoot-out at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks as the end".

Adi Kuini called for the restoration of the widely accepted 1997 Constitution. She said "the interim government should return the reigns of the country to the legitimate People's Coalition". She also called for the reinstatement of the President:

"We should recall the same Parliament. Put in place the legitimate President and let him recall Parliament. A Parliament of such nature will have representatives from all the parties who were elected by the people, those with the mandate to lead. Once such a Parliament is in place, its members can meet with rebels and identify the problems they want addressed, the reasons for all these disturbances and then work towards addressing them in a peaceful, calm and practical manner".

A failure to do this, she warned, would result in Fiji slipping into a catastrophic civil war.

END 4 November 2000.

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