Who Was Who in the 1987 Coups?
Excerpts from Fiji: Coups in Paradise by Victor Lal
Filipe Bole (right), now Bainimarama’s Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts, Youth and Sports, Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, was another conspirator from 1987 coups:
According to Ritova and Dean Rabuka (his words in italics) went to, ‘…what he understood was an ordinary ‘grog’ party at the Rev. Rakivi’s home, in suburban Suva. It was early evening, and he just walked in, as he normally would, throwing his ‘sevusevu’ [gift] of yagona towards the bowl where the ‘grog’ was being mixed. ‘I saw all these people sitting down, and realised it was some kind of a meeting. Some of the people greeted me, although I could not see everyone clearly, because it was fairly dark in the lounge room. Nobody asked me to leave.’ When his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he discovered the gathering was ‘quite a formidable group’ He says it included Ratu Finau Mara, the son of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara; Ratu George Kadavulevu, son of the Paramount of Chief of Fiji, Ratu George Cakobau; Ratu Inoke Kubuabola; Ratu Keni Viuyasawa, the brother of Brigadier Nailatikau; Mr Filipe Bole, formerly a Minister in the Mara government; Ratu Jo Ritova, of Labasa; Ratu Jale Ratu; ‘Big Dan’ Veitata and the host Tomasi Rakivi…Another leading light at this meeting was Apisai Tora.’
Bole, along with Finau Mara and others in the Fijian Association meetings resolved that the 1970 Constitution of Fiji should be changed to guarantee that Fijians always led Fiji, and agreed to organise protest marches through the capital, Suva, and other centres, and to submit a petition to the Governor-General [Ratu Penaia Ganilau] against the Bavadra government. In complicity with the Great Council of Chiefs, this group subsequently set out to manipulate and mobilize the Fijians to destabilize the Coalition government.
When the coup occurred, Ratu Finau Mara was in the corridor of the Parliament, making sure the passage was clear for a back-up team of soldiers with combat gear and assault rifles to join Rabuka and his other treasonist soldiers. Ratu Finau, a lawyer in the Crown Law Office was not alone; another lawyer colleague of his was to emerge from the shadows; yes Isikeli Mataitoga.
The Role of Isikeli Mataitoga, now Bainimarama’s diplomat in Moscow
During the 1987 coups, Mataitoga was Rabuka’s chief press officer, appearing on television in full military regalia, justifying the racist coups. He forgot that he was a State prosecutor in the DPP’s office at the time. No, he chose to become, by association, persecutor of Indo-Fijians, whom Rabuka described as pagans who should be converted to Christianity, and that Indo-Fijians will never ever rule Fiji. A former British High Commissioner at the time of the coup claimed that Rabuka had placed Mataitoga into the staff at Government House, and used him to listen on Ratu Penaia’s meetings and conversations with the British and other foreign diplomats.
Editor’s Note: Rabuka , and his team of 10 soldiers, led by one Captain X, entered Parliament on 14 May 1987. Who was Captain X? He was Isireli Dugu of Ono Island in Lau, and his second in command was Savenaca Draunidalo, the ex-husband of Adi Kuini Bavadra. Draunidalo died in a fishing accident in December 2007, when his outboard boat capsized and hit him.
Editor's note: Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Foreign Minister, was named in part one of Victor Lal's excerpt one on Coups on Paradise for Coupfourpointfive, which ran on Sunday.
Part Three coming up