13 Jun 2011

On anti-government tour, Fiji's Mara expected in New Zealand

5:41 am on 13 June 2011

A former Fiji military officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, is expected to meet New Zealand government officials as early as this week after Wellington granted him an exemption from a travel ban on Fiji coup makers.

Col Mara, who was a co-conspirator of the 2006 military coup, skipped bail and fled to Tonga last month after being charged with sedition.

Now travelling on a Tongan passport, he is in Australia and plans to tour the region before going to the UN to lobby for an end to the military-run government in Fiji.

Col Mara has accused the interim leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, of serious human rights abuses and asked police to investigate.

The interim government has not denied the torture claims but did reject Col Mara's figures of the interim prime minister's pay as wrong, without revealing what his taxpayer-funded salary is.