He Said it. He Said it Not

QUOTE OF THE WEEK.
Fiji is a hall of mirrors even for someone with a local background. So God help any outsider trying to make sense of it all. I'm convinced that this is the problem with the international media. There are so many layers of disinformation, so many agendas being pushed, so many febrile rumours on the coconut radio, that it's a wonder any truth emerges at all.-- a Reader. 

He loves me. He loves me not.

The latest round of articles on what Bainimarama was supposed to have said in 2000 and later is unusual in that Bainimarama's version of events has been published in the international media, or to be more precise, by the NZ Herald.

It started with two articles by Victor Lal and Russell Hunter and an ABC interview with Hunter of the attempt by the Fiji police to have Baininimarama arrested in New Zealand immediately before the coup in December 2006, and with allegations that Bainimarama had planned for three coups, in 2000 and 2004 and 2005, before the coup that took place in 2006.

There was little new in these claims.  They have been circulating the anti-blogs for several years. What was new was that Lal and Hunter provided a little more detail, none of it verified except by reference to "leaked documents." It will be remembered Ratu Tevita Mara also claimed to have documents that would prove all.  But he — and so far Lal and Hunter—  have not made the "documents" available for inspection.



The ABC interview noted that the "revelations" were the subject of a forthcoming book by Lal and Hunter but no further details were given and it has not been mentioned since. 

My response, on 21 February, was that in 2000 nothing would have stopped Bainimarama taking power had be wanted it. Instead he gave power to Qarase who subsequently joined forces with the very extreme Fijian nationalist elements who held ideas identical to Speight.

The so called later plans to take power were due to Qarase betraying the trust Bainimarama had placed in him when he was given the job of returning Fiji to some sort of normalcy. I also said Bainimarama may have said the military should take over for 50 years but, knowing how prone he is to snap comments, I was surprised to see they had taken the remark seriously. The original utterance was said to be for 5, 10 or 50 years, but Lal and Hunter chose the upper end. It should also be evident that words spoken in the heat of the moment, while negotiating with Speight, and later, while trying to get Qarase to retract proposed legislation to absolve the Speight plotters, is a long step from actually planning a coup.

References:
Fiji police tried to get Bainimarama arrested in NZ. NZ Herald
Smuggled papers show Bainimarama's lust for power NZ Herald
My reply on 21   February.    http://crosbiew.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/bainimaramas-four-coups-and-new.html

For the first time we have Bainimarama's response to these claims published in a mainstream paper.
The article was written by Australian journalist Graham Davis who interviewed Bainimarama last week. It was originally published on his blog Grubsheet, and on NZ's Pacific Media Centre on line. Readers wishing to keep up on important events in the Pacific are urged to consult this site and its companions Pacific Journalism Review, Pacific Scoop, and David Robie's Cafe Pacific.

References:
NZ Herald article Fiji leader denies claims of coup bids   NZ Herald  (see below) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10788250
Grubsheet Bainimarama denies coup attempts
Pacific Media Centre. Bainimarama attacks credibility of former Fiji 'vendetta' journalists


Fiji leader denies claims of coup bids

By Graham Davis in the NZ Herald
5:30 AM Monday Feb 27, 2012
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has strongly denied claims made by two prominent former Fijian journalists that he tried to mount three coups before his successful takeover in December 2006.

Oxford-based academic Victor Lal and Russell Hunter, the former publisher of the Fiji Sun, wrote in the Weekend Herald that Commodore Bainimarama had tried to take over the country after the Speight coup in 2000, and then again in 2004 and 2005.

The authors wrote of leaked correspondence from some of the commodore's fellow officers urging him not to proceed and warning that they would oppose him.

But in an interview in Suva, the Fijian leader said the allegations were "not true".

In the case of 2000, Mr Lal and Mr Hunter reported that Commodore Bainimarama demanded that the military be given the authority to rule Fiji for 50 years but this was opposed by the then President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Denying the account, Commodore Bainimarama said he was already in control of Fiji in 2000.
"For their information, I was in charge of the nation in 2000, so I took over in 2000. I gave the Government to [Laisenia] Qarase."

The Prime Minister said it was a historical fact that he had handed power to Mr Qarase hoping that he would govern for all Fijians and not just the indigenous majority.

"Everyone knows the story of 2000 when I came in, so why they change this and [have] people believing it, I don't know".

Commodore Bainimarama also denied he made subsequent attempts to seize power before his successful coup in 2006.

"In 2004 and 2005, there was no intention then to remove the Government because I was trying to tell the Government to play ball. There was a build-up of animosity between us and the Government of the day, but there was no intention then to remove them because I was trying to get them to change their stance on the Qoliqoli [coastal resources] Bill and the racism that was rife," he said.

"I was trying to persuade Qarase that he was wrong but there was no talk of us wanting to do coups then."
He said Mr Hunter was motivated by anger that he had been expelled from Fiji after 2006.

Comments

A Piper paid by Two Paymasters said…
Dancing with Darkness in a Hall of Mirrors....

But just like Afghanistan, the devil lurks within the darkness and wears many masks. The truth is ever retreating, retreating, attainable only in death.

How was Isikia Savua permitted to die in his bed, At Home? What level of terrible injustice was done to all the people of Fiji by this? Meanwhile, John Scott was hacked to death early one Sunday morning in July. He had received on-going and multiple threats to his life: no one came to his aid. Indeed, he had a Sense of an Ending only ten days before it took place. He knew he was hunted down.

Who permitted this evil? Who still refuses to speak? Fiji is accursed by these silent mirrors, their silvered depths reflecting darkness and death.

Did Andrew Hughes have any clue of what he would find, conflicted as he was in his allegiance? He was 'A Piper paid by two Paymasters' and finally he let us all down. Turned his back to all those who counted on him with nowhere else to go?
Lal and Hunter team said…
Russell Hunter has no credibility left in Fiji, where he is now famous for practising skirt journalism. Fiji govt knows this and should expose Russell by exposing how he used a female journalist on his staff to get access to anti-Chaudhry stories.

Victor Lal did a good job exposing Chaudhry. But his bitchiness, pettiness and nastiness came to the fore when in a recent article, he hurled a derogatory religious slur at Aiyaz Saiyad Khaiyum by comparing him to a pig on the racist website, coup 4.5. Victor knew exactly what he was doing. His actions were deliberate and hateful. This is the true measure of the man regardless of his standing and qualifications - deep down inside he is small-minded, vicious and vindictive. We do not agree with Aiyaz but would never stoop that low. This was really gutter-level. I have lost all respect for Victor. No wonder Victor and Russell Hunter are such a good team.
Victor/Russell forthcoming book said…
Is it true Victor Lal and Russell Hunter are writing a book? When is someone going to write a book about how Russell Hunter and Netani Rika used skirt journalism at The Fiji Times through a reporter who was in a relationship with ousted PM Rabuka,to write anti-Chaudhry stories?

It is bound to make interesting reading while exposing two of the biggest news media hypocrites in Fiji and the region.
Anonymous said…
Oh yes, sooo unique and sooo complex that it can only be dealt with by a military who claim to know just how to fix it and will kick your head in if you don't agree.
Signed First Editions List said…
Hunter and Lal writing a book?

Will it feature on the Hatchards Signed First Edition list? Do tell us. Because many books shall be written: all in good time.

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