At 10.45am on the morning of Friday, 19 May 2000, after one year in government, the democratically elected government was taken hostage in a coup d’état led by a bald-headed man known as George Speight and six gunmen.
On that day Chaudhry and his supporters were celebrating their one year in office at Parliament. As Chaudhry cut the black forest cake, a protest march he allowed, started in the centre of Suva city.
Forty-six Members of Parliament including Chaudhry (plus his bodyguard Krishna Naidu and private secretary/son Rajendra Chaudhry)were held hostage at Parliament House by Speight, with the help of members of the elite but now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Unit of the military.
Eighteen hostages, including Chaudhry, and his then co-deputy PM, Dr Tupeni Baba, were released after 56 days in captivity.
Nine of them, including the then Attorney-General, Anand Singh, were freed after 55 days.
Four hostages, all of them women, including Adi Koila Nailatikau, were released after 36 days. Adi Ema Tagicakibau was released after 14 days.
Two MPs were released after 4 days on medical grounds.
Nine MPs -including Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi - and Gaffar Ahmed plus bodyguard, Krishna Naidu, found freedom after only 36-40 hours in captivity.