4 Oct 2004

Fiji lands minister asks for forgiveness for 1987, 2000 coups

3:32 pm on 4 October 2004

Fiji's lands minister and Vanua Levu high chief, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, has made a traditional Fijian presentation asking for forgiveness for all those involved in the coups of 1987 and 2000 and the army mutinies that accompanied the latter coup.

Although members of the deposed Chaudhry government and other victims of the terrorism were not present, Ratu Naiqama asked President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to forgive the perpetrators on their behalf.

He also asked My Chaudhry's family to forgive them.

Ratu Naiqama, who is facing a mutiny related charge currently before the courts, said some chiefs had wronged the citizens of Fiji but they now realise they need to respect the democratic rights of all the people.

He said lives have been lost and prisons are over-crowded, but it's time to reconcile and move on.

Among chiefs present in the apology were the government senator charged with conspiracy in the November 2000 mutiny, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata; the brother of the jailed vice president, Ratu Inia Seniloli, and Ratu Tanoa Cakobau.

Earlier, the former chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, had questioned the validity of the forgiveness ceremony, adding that the victims of the events would have to be present to make it relevant.