12 Mar 2003

Fiji high chief seeks inquiry to presidential ouster after May 2000 coup

11:25 am on 12 March 2003

There's been a call in Fiji for an investigation into who ordered the removal of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as the president after the May 2000 coup.

The Fiji Sun reports that the call has come from a high chief who does not wish to be named.

The chief is quoted as saying a military delegation called on Ratu Mara to ask him to step aside as president on the clear understanding that he would return to office when the political situation had normalised.

A senior Fiji military officer now with the New Zealand army, Lt Col Vilimae Seruvakula, had revealed in an earlier interview that the order had come from a politician.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Labour Party parliamentarian, Poseci Bune, says the traditional ceremony asking Ratu Mara to step aside was a mutinous act and the people involved should face treason charges.

The coup front man, George Speight, was one of those who wanted the president removed and at one time sent gunmen from parliament to open fire at the president's official residence, Government House.