Sitiveni Rabuka's apology is making news. The story was outed by the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation yesterday and after being run locally in Fiji, has now been picked up by New Zealand media.
In the Stuff website interview, Rabuka says point blank: ''What I did was wrong." And as he told Fiji media, Rabuka told Stuff his contrition came after the junta stripped him of his pension and his car earlier this year.
''I felt justice had finally caught up with me,'' he said. ''I was receiving something I had unfairly gained.''
Rabuka now aims to hold a "Tiger Woods press conference'' ahead of the 23rd anniversary of his May 14, 1987 takeover.
Rabuka, as a lieutenant colonel in the Royal (now Republic) of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), forcibly ended the Indian-dominated Fiji Labour Party (FLP) government of Dr Timoci Bavadra a month after it was elected.
He later won two democratic elections, but now says he had an unfair advantage over his rivals because of the popularity of his first two coups.
Rabuka said he was no longer trying to score points off the Bainimarama regime. ''I don't want anybody to do anything, this is just me,'' he said. ''Basically, my life is village life, my political life is over. I know my brand of politics is not right for this generation, not these people, not future generations.''
Bainimarama ordered the cancellation of pensions paid to retired politicians and in the case of Rabuka, even had his car seized, leaving him to be dropped off by the side of a road.
''I got dropped off and started walking back to the village,'' Rabuka said. ''When I started walking back, I started reflecting on what happened and this justice thing came up it was the road to the village and the lights came.''
Yesterday Rabuka met up with the paramount chief of Vuda, Bavadra's vanua or tribe. ''On reflection what I did against the doctor was wrong, and I want to tell them that.''
In 1987 Rabuka was RFMF's third in command. He said he had now made peace with retired Lt-Colonel Jim Sanday, his immediate superior, and he had met the then RFMF head, Brigadier-General Epeli Nailatikau, now the military appointed president.
Rabuka has returned a tabua or whales' tooth given to him by Nailatikau when Rabuka became RFMF commander. Rabuka says now his installation as commander was illegal.
He wants to meet Bainimarama and the secretive military council.
''They probably still distrust me I want to go to them and say 'look you were all my subordinates at the time I want to tell them I lead them astray'.''
He says he has no political message about the current regime or other coup plots.
''If people have been using my coup and saying 'that went okay, maybe it is okay to do another one', I don't want anybody thinking like that I want them to know that I know that what I did was wrong.''