25 Aug 2006

Fiji businessman says there will be bloodshed over DIGICEL phone contract

10:37 am on 25 August 2006

An indigenous Fijian company which suffered a boardroom coup recently is warning of bloodshed in the country if the West Indies-based mobile phone operator, DIGICEL, is allowed to do business in Fiji.

Fiji TV reports that the warning has been issued in a letter written by Ratu Tevita Momoedonu who took control of Ba Provincial holdings after ousting its previous chief executive, Isimeli Bose.

In the letter, Ratu Tevita warns the minister that the government must stop all dealings with DIGICEL because it has split the indigenous people of Ba.

Ratu Tevita says this will be so devastating to the Ba people that they will "not be able to contain any subsequent bloodshed."

He says that DIGICEL should have had the good sense to withdraw from Fiji but their greed for business has blinded them from good judgment.

Ratu Tevita has demanded that the government immediately revoke the provisional mobile phone licence granted to DIGICEL in April.

DIGICEL says Ratu Tevita's allegations are outrageous, mischievous, extremely defamatory and untrue.

In a statement, the chairman of DIGICEL, Dennis O'Brian, says the accusations against the company have damaged their world class reputation.

Mr O'Brian says the company has conducted itself with the highest integrity in Fiji, has full confidence in its government and is fully committed to introducing the benefits of competition into Fiji's mobile phone market.

DIGICEL is reported to have made a presentation to the cabinet subcommittee on investment where the prime minister, Laisenia Qaqase, thanked it for committing an investment of 265-million US dollars over the next 15 years.

DIGICEL currently operates in about 20 developing countries and has a provisional licence to run a mobile phone service in Fiji.