21 Dec 2004

Secretary to Fiji's former President denies asking him to step down

11:33 am on 21 December 2004

The official secretary to the president at the time of the coup, Joe Browne, says the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's removal as head of state was treasonous.

The Fiji Times reports that the former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, said at the weekend that Mr Browne was part of the delegation which made a traditional approach to Ratu Mara asking him to step down.

But Mr Browne has denied he was part of the group.

Mr Browne also says he was not party to the decision making of the delegation which boarded a naval vessel in Suva Harbour to put the request to Ratu Mara.

At that time Ratu Mara had been evacuated to the patrol boat because of threats to his life from Speight's rebels.

Mr Browne says the group which approached Ratu Mara to step down used the Doctrine of Necessity to justify their actions.

But, he says, he believes that what the military and police officers did on that day was treasonous if it cannot be justified