Roko Ului Mara talks to the Nukualofa based magazine, Matangi Tonga, about the assassination allegation and the process to bring about a Constitution and elections
"I am quite surprised, you know there is a mention of a plot to assassinate the illegal dictator in Fiji, so I am still surprised as to how my name came into the picture," was Ratu Tevita Mara's reaction to a TVNZ news item that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service SIS and police had this week raided the Auckland home of Rajesh Singh, alleged to be involved in a plot to kill Fiji leader Frank Bainimarama and his Attorney General Ayaz Sayed Khaiyum.
Mara said that was the first time he had heard of it, "Absolutely, that’s the first time."
Mara's name was mentioned in the news item because Rajesh Singh had said the members of the Movement for Democracy in Fiji were being targeted by the SIS because of their association with Mara, a self-exiled military man also known as Roko Ului Tevita Mara.
Mara is living in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, after fleeing Fiji aboard a Tongan navy patrol boat in May last year.
Mara told Matangi Tonga Online yesterday, July 19, that he had visited Rajesh Singh, a former Fijian Cabinet Minister, twice while he was in Auckland a few days ago.
While Mara was surprised by the raid and the allegation, he also said that he was not surprised with a possible assassination attempt on Commodore Bainimarama.
"This is not the first so-called assassination attempt on him. There was one in 2007, and the message is loud and clear. We are living in a democratic society and the time for dictatorship has long gone," he said.
But he stressed that the stance of those who are against Bainimarama, including himself, "is not to resolve to violence as has happened in other countries. Look at Lybia, and where it ended, and look at what is happening now in Syria. What is happening in Fiji is no different from that," he said.
Mara said he was surprised by the involvement of the New Zealand government in the raids.
"What the New Zealand government should be actually doing is looking at people who are actually New Zealand citizens who are in Fiji assisting the regime, people like the current illegal solicitor general Christopher Bryce who is a New Zealand citizen. We have made that clear to the New Zealand Government."
As a Lieutenant Colonel, Mara was one of the four Fijian senior military officers who with Commodore Bainimarama overthrew the democratically elected government of Fiji on 5 December 2006. But Mara has since confessed that what they did was illegal, and that he wanted a democratic government back in Fiji.
"He is an illegal dictator who took a democratically elected government by force, as far we are concerned he’s illegal, he is illegally there."
"So six years down the line, they have the registration of votes, which Bainimarama wants, and has been pushing for. There was a very low turn out and that is a sign that the people disagreed with it. People disagree with what he has been doing."
Mara did not know if there would be a change in the non-violent approach by the Fijians against the rule of Bainimarama.
"Maybe, maybe, six years down the line under an oppressive regime, it is oppressive, you can't even say anything about the government. All those laws in place, you know this is maybe a sign that the people have had enough."
"Bainimarama is protected by 50 armed men, what does that indicate? That indicates that the majority of Fijians don’t want him there, and he, surely, knows that."
A general election is proposed for 2014 in Fiji.
"We had a high court ruling in 2009, that Bainimarama's government is illegal and the power to be handed over within one year to a civilian administration. That was in 2009, but four years down the line he announced that he wants an election in 2014.
"What is the whole purpose of this election? The whole purpose of this election is to save himself from prosecution. It is a waste of time and a waste of money. It will be electronically done, very easy to manipulate, and that was why there was a poor turn out for registration. And we have just had an election in 2006, and there was no need for registration."
But in order to have an election Fiji's political parties will have to be activated again.
"Both of the big parties, the Labour and the SDL, which polled more than 85% of the votes in Fiji, went underground, but now have come out, singing the same tune that they want the 1997 constitution restored, and the 2009 High Court ruling should be followed, and Bainimarama realizes that these main parties were the same parties he disposed in 2006."
"Bainimarama has not announced a party, but there are a number of options available to him. One is to have a party himself, and the other one is maybe to go for the post of a president."
Mara agreed that an exit for Bainimarama would be difficult.
"There was a clear exit policy when we were in the Military Council, and it involved him handing over power, but in 2009 when he was supposed to hand over power, he hung on to power. After that there was no exit policy, the only way out is to abort the constitution, and now he has committed an offence.
"His back is against the wall, where ever he goes he realizes he will be prosecuted, if a new government will come into power further down the line he will be prosecuted. It happened in Africa, and in Europe, the law always catches up with you. He knows that.
"The only exit for him is to hang on to power as long as he can. But that will create more uncertainty among the people and more animosity against him," said Mara.