Thursday, May 15, 2008

1987 Coup had genesis in 1977

‘87 coup had genesis in 1977: Savua
14 MAY 2008

Fiji’s first coup on this day 21 years ago had its genesis in 1977, a former military officer has revealed.

In an exclusive interview with Fijilive, Isikia Savua, a former military chief-of-staff said the seeds of Brigadier General Sitiveni Rabuka’s coup on May 14, 1987 were sown after the ethnic Indian-backed National Federation Party (NFP), pipped Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara’s Alliance Party in the 1977 General Election.

It would have meant that political leadership was to be taken away from an indigenous Fijian for the first time since independence in 1970. However, the NFP were unable to form Government and the Alliance won a snap election in the same year.

Savua was then a lieutenant while his close friend from Queen Victoria School Sitiveni Rabuka a captain in the Fiji army.

“When the NFP won the election in 1977, the rank and file in the military received calls from the ‘vanua’,” he said.

“They were asking us what the heck you’re going to do about this. We said no, no, no, I don’t think that’s part of our role.

“But you’re Fijian, aren’t you - they asked. You should be doing something about what’s happening in Fiji now.”

Savua said that carrying out a coup then never entered their minds.

“We soldiers were there on behalf of the people of Fiji, not for the Fijian people,” he said.

“But because the question was raised - it stayed in our minds."

Savua said he and other young officers at the time “studied coups abroad, but we didn’t think we were going to do it here”.

He said that one such study was conducted by Rabuka and the events of 1987, years later, enabled him to carry one out, which was successful.

“Steve wrote a paper – his thesis (while at military college) in India on coups,’ said Savua.

“That was the blueprint for 1987. But really it had its genesis in 1977.

“In 1987 we had the opportunity to implement 1977!”

Rabuka denies any knowledge of the calls from Fijian chiefs to topple the NFP.

He told Fijilive, however, that he recalls then military commander Paul Manueli cautioning his officers.

“I am not aware of anything that happened at the time. All I know is that the Commander Paul Manueli said, after the results came out, to support the Government of the day and anybody who could not support the NFP was free to tender their resignation.”

Rewa chief challenges NCBBF to debate
14 MAY 2008

Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau has questioned the legality of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) saying they are unelected.

Responding to an NCBBF statement, Ro Filipe says the NCBBF is using labels such as ‘racist’ and ‘race card’ to downgrade arguments from the point of view of the Fijian people.

The NCBBF Media Committee, had issued a statement in response to comments by Ro Filipe on land and the electoral system saying indigenous people should be concerned about the comments as it was a recipe for ‘civil unrest’.

The committee said Ro Filipe’s comments on race intended to create confusion and fear and was in many ways, inciteful.

“The Fijian people cannot be robbed of their identity by anybody by any means.

“The Fijian’s are proud of their identity and they do not need provincial and communal electoral systems to preserve their identity.

“The provincial electoral system was only introduced in 1990. He asserts that any move to review the electoral system to make it fairer, more democratic and responsive, will be resisted by indigenous Fijians.

“He has, in a few words, tried to turn people away from being constructive on an issue of such importance to Fijians and Fiji. He is insulting the intelligence of Fijian people,” said the committee.

The committee said the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) should be seen as a mechanism to promote the advancement and well being of the indigenous peoples, particularly the disadvantaged and suppressed.

It said that the UNDRIP should not to be used for blackmailing governments and create division within a state, as being mooted by Ratu Filipe and others.

In response, Ro Filipe challenged the NCBBF to an open debate on the issues raised.

“They (NCBBF) state that Fijians do not need the Fijian Provincial seats to preserve their identity. Who are they to determine this? They are the last people to determine what's good for the Fijians especially when one of them wrote a paper calling Fijian institutions such as the GCC (Great Council of Chiefs) racist and calling for their dismantling.

“They should ask themselves as to why Fijian Provinces are rejecting them outright.

“I am not a voice in the wilderness, the NCBBF is being rejected left right and centre by majority Fijians and they did that from their own analysis,” said Ro Filipe.

He said the NCBBF was misled with its claims that he (Ro Filipe) had said Fijian land was threatened.

“The discrediting of NCBBF is their own fault as they could not counter the analysis we did which is based on truthful analysis. We audited the Charter against the UNDRIP; that was again highlighted by Roko Tui Bau. No one is blackmailing the NCBBF. It is them who are blackmailing us,” he said.

Ro Filipe said he was only engaging the NCBBF in open debate and that he had no weapons or government funds to blackmail anyone.

“On problems with the electoral system, NCBBF has no mandate from the people-that is also the position of the international community. Any changes must be made by Parliament. Who is this NCBBF? NCBBF comments on race are superficial. They are trying to impose a top down solution. This is the role of our elected representatives, not the NCBBF,” he said.

Ro Filipe said the Rewa province and all provinces that had rejected the Charter would not change their stance.

And he has challenged NCBBF members to an open public debate on the issue.

“The most important thing today is even though we disagree, we can still engage in public debate so at least I acknowledge that. But the sooner we get back to a normal situation with an elected government the better for everyone,” he said.

1 comment:

shellybaitz said...

The Fiji 1987 coup has greatly affected Fiji in the way that it is viewed by the world..And has been a screen hiding true Fijian culture, and tradition, and leaving it in isolation..