11 Mar 2003

Former Fiji MP says SVT Party was behind the overthrow of the Chaudhry government

11:28 am on 11 March 2003

A former Fiji MP who was at the centre of events which led to the overthrow of the Chaudhry government claims the SVT party was behind the coup.

The Fiji Times reports that the claim has been made by Peceli Rinakama, a dissident MP of the Fijian Association Party at the time of the coup, who was refused a visa to enter New Zealand last week as manager of a rugby team.

Mr Rinakama says disgruntled senior members of the SVT, which was then headed by the current High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, hatched the coup plot

He claims that the Chaudhry government was to be overthrown even before it took office but he and Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who was also refused a visa to New Zealand last week, intervened to prevent it.

Mr Rinakama claims that he was asked to approach Mr Chaudhry to replace the minister for Fijian Affairs, Adi Kuini Speed, with Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto, who was then challenging her leadership of the Fijian Association Party.

Mr Chaudhry has admitted he met with Ratu Inoke Takiveikata but it was to do with a land study trip by chiefs to Malaysia and no one approached him to replace Adi Kuini.

Meanwhile the secretary of the SVT, Ema Druavesi, has refuted allegations that their former leader, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, was part of moves to destabilise the government.

Ratu Inoke is currently under police investigation after his name was mentioned in the Nata and Silatolu treason trial.