13 Jul 2004

Fiji's Rabuka explains why he offered to take over as military commander during coup

8:21 pm on 13 July 2004

Fiji's 1987 coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, says he offered to become the army commander after the Speight coup because be believed he could have ended the crisis.

Mr Rabuka has told Radio Legend that Commodore Bainimarama was away overseas at the time and he himself was still a reserve officer.

Mr Rabuka says with his personal knowledge of the soldiers of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare unit involved in the coup, he might have been able to convince then to come out of parliament.

Mr Rabuka says he wanted to control the situation because arms and ammunition were still being transferred from the military armoury to parliament.

This was being done despite a meeting between Mr Rabuka and the acting commander at the time, Col Alfred Tuatoko*, to stop logistic support for the rebels in parliament.

Mr Rabuka says making him commander was an option for the then president but this was not done because the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara did not trust him.

Instead, Mr Rabuka says the following morning Ratu Mara accused him and the former police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua, of being involved in the coup.