19 Jun 2004

Coup rumours prompt heavy police security at Fiji parliament

7:26 am on 19 June 2004

Armed officers from the Police Tactical Response Unit surrounded the Fiji parliament in Suva yesterday in response to a tip-off that there would be a coup and MPs taken hostage.

The Fij Sun quotes Assistant Superintendent, Kinivuwai Ratuvio, as saying his officers were ready to defend parliament if any rebels tried to take over.

Police Commissioner, Andrew Hughes, is quoted as saying reports of civil unrest were sparked off by a military exercise that was under way.

Mr Hughes said he was unaware of any threats made to military commander, Commodore Binimarama, and rumours that the army camp would be taken over.

The Daily Post says Commodore Bainimarama denied he was under house arrest and said the security situation was normal.

The speculation of civil unrest and a coup coincided with discussions on a Defence Review report which has recommended sharp cuts in the strength of the army and an increase in the number of police.