10 Jan 2007

Former Fiji army head denies involvement in coup

4:28 pm on 10 January 2007

Fiji's former army head and leader of the National Alliance Party has denied advising the military to overthrow the Qarase government.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau made the comment following allegations by the ousted Opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, that the party played a part in the December 5th coup.

Ratu Epeli says that while he is an honorary colonel he merely advises the military on traditional and ceremonial matters.

"I absolutely refute that we had any part to play in the events of December 5th. If anyone comes up with those allegations we're open to any investigation and they certainly have the right to take the matter to the proper authorities."

Ratu Epeli, who has been appointed as Fijian Affairs Minister, says that while he opposed the military takeover he supports its campaign to clean up corruption in the country.

He also denied suggestions that his party colluded with the Fiji Labour Party to support the military in the lead up to the coup.