24 Mar 2004

Former Fiji president could have been duped into stepping down during coup

2:54 pm on 24 March 2004

There is new information in Fiji that the former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was duped into stepping down at the time of the 2000 coup.

Police spokesperson, Mesake Koroi, says the police know who gave the order for his removal but will not identify at this point who it was.

A group, including the then police commissioner, Colonel Isikia Savua, the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka and the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, went to the president during the coup.

Mr Koroi says it now appears that he was asked to step aside, not step down.

"There are a lot of legal implications that are involved. What some people are saying is that the president was not asked to step down. He was just asked to step aside while the military take over and then, once it's normalised, he will come back again but then things changed as the coup took a turn."

Mesake Koroi says the investigation may take some time to be concluded.