29 Apr 2004

Fiji's Rabuka told Mara after coup: I am ready

6:22 am on 29 April 2004

Fiji's late former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, has revealed that less than half an hour after the May 2000 coup, former coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka telephoned him to say 'I am ready'.

Ratu Mara disclosed this in an interview he recorded with Fiji TV in April 2001, that was broadcast with the consent of his family only last night.

Ratu Mara said what really shocked him, was that troops of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit, set up by Mr Rabuka after his 1987 coups, were the ones who took George Speight to parliament.

Ratu Mara said he did not know what Mr Rabuka was ready for.

But two days later, he got Mr Rabuka, together with the police commissioner Colonel Isikia Savua, and the acting army commander, Colonel Alfred Tuatoko, to come to Government House.

The current chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau was also present at the meeting.

Ratu Mara says he then pointed to Mr Rabuka and Colonel Savua, and accused them of having a hand in the coup.

Ratu Mara said he could see the reaction in their faces as they made evasive excuses.

Ratu Mara also said, there were no police officers around the protest marchers demanding the overthrow of the government on the day of the coup nor around parliament when it took place.

Asked whether he thought the two men had a role in the coup, Ratu Mara said he was telling the facts.

Ratu Mara's state funeral service will take place in Suva tomorrow before he is buried on his home island of Lakeba on Monday.