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Rabuka Talked To Rebels When Phones Were "Down"

Issue No: 182; 7 November 2000

Major General Sitiveni Rabuka called members of the rebel group when all phone lines at the military camp were down.

In an interview with Radio Fiji played last night and continued this morning, Rabuka stated that he was having lunch on 2 November with business partners when his PA called to inform him of a mutiny. He then called the Commander of the 3rd Fiji Infantry Regiment who was on his way to Suva from a field exercise. He then called the Deputy Secretary in the Home Affairs Ministry Lt Lomaloma. After this he called the military camp and talked to, amongst others, one J B Naisara who told him that they were dissatisfied with Bainimarama, were holding hostages, and wanted to negotiate with the Commander Rabuka. Rabuka stated that Naisara was his cousin. Rabuka also said that he "was curious" and he knew the people - Naisara was a cousin, Bukarau, "I know", and Waqaniboro is from the same vanua, said Rabuka.

The military earlier confirmed that all phone and mobile lines to the military were down from soon before 1pm. Vodaphone, the mobile service provider also confirmed that it had switched off all military mobile phones on authority of a faxed but unsigned letter on military letterhead.

The question arising concerns the ease with which Rabuka could talk to those in the military camp while all others, including the media, could not contact the rebels until the rebels called them and gave them a number to call.

Rabuka personally went to the Radio Fiji premises for the lengthy interview to state that he was not involved with the rebels. He told the Radio that he went to the military camp in a "last ditch effort to avert something which was going to be very serious". Earlier he was quoted by the Fiji Times as saying that he advised the loyal soldiers before being ordered to leave the camp to not to be too harsh with the rebels.

Naisara is one of the Parliament Complex terrorists, being present on the complex from 19 May. Waqaniboro joined the terrorists on 21 May.

In the interview, Rabuka also stated that he suspects that he may not be allowed to Chair the next meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs, or may be altogether removed from the Chairmanship. The meeting is scheduled for 27 November.

Rabuka also stated that neither his passport, nor the government-issued vehicle he was driving were seized. He did , however, confirm that his vehicle was searched at a military checkpoint yesterday.

END 7 November 2000


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