16 May 2002

Fiji's Conservatives criticise Rabuka for coup comments

7:23 pm on 16 May 2002

Fiji's pro-coup Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua Party has condemned statements by the former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, that George Speight should be punished because his coup had failed.

Mr Rabuka says he himself did not deserve to be punished because his 1987 coups were successful and brought changes to the system.

But in a statement, the Conservative Alliance has described Rabuka's coups as failures and says the man is now regarded as a traitor by his own people.

The party says Mr Rabuka cannot claim his coups were successful because he is no longer in power and law can take its own course as in any other criminal or civil matter.

It points out the case of Chile's General Pinochet who is now under prosecution for crimes after his coup in 1973 despite the immunity he had given himself.

The Conservative Alliance says Mr Rabuka's support in 1987 was based on promises of indigenous political supremacy, protection of the Christian faith and affirmative action for the indigenous people.

The party says these were enshrined in the 1990 constitution but Mr Rabuka uprooted all conditions except his immunity with the 1997 constitution.