22 Jul 2011

Dissident Colonel to lobby Pacific Forum

8:30 pm on 22 July 2011

Former Fiji army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara, says he will lobby the Pacific Islands Forum about the need for further intervention in Fiji when it meets later this year.

Colonel Mara visited New Zealand for meetings with pro-democracy groups, senior foreign affairs officials and, on Friday, the Maori King.

He will return to Tonga on Monday, and then travel to Samoa.

Colonel Mara says he cannot understand why Fiji is still the chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, and he will be talking to other Forum countries about the matter.

Colonel Mara has been highly critical of Fiji's government since he fled the country earlier this year.

He is in exile and is being protected by Tonga after being accused of sedition.

A source who used to be close to the King told Radio New Zealand the meeting between Colonel Mara and King Tuheitia would politicise the apolitical Kingitanga movement.

But Rahui Papa, a spokesperson for the Kingitanga, says King Tuheitia's mother was best friends with Colonel Mara's parents and the main purpose of the meeting would have been to discuss those ties.