23 Jun 2004

Fiji party denies plot against military head

3:53 pm on 23 June 2004

Fiji's pro-coup Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party has denied any involvement in a plot to overthrow the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

The executive director of the Citizen Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Aquila Yabaki, has complained to Fiji police that members of the party approached a senior army officer to help seize the main army camp in Suva and overpower Commodore Bainimarama.

A Conservative Alliance MP, Samisone Tikonisau, the brother of coup leader George Speight, says the Rev Yabaki is grandstanding and the accusation is groundless.

"Our good reverend's trying to create a controversial issue. We're very comfortable with whatever accusation he's trying to pin on us. We have no idea as to the substance of that allegation and we welcome any police inquiry. We maintain that we are not involved in any such plot."

Mr Tikonisau says the party has nothing to hide.

The Rev Yabaki says the officer who was approached by members of the party reported the matter to him in April.

He says the officer turned down the offer and he has only just reported the conversation to the police because the matter was discussed in confidence.