INDEPENDENT NEWS

Party Promises To Clear Speight

Published: Mon 30 Jul 2001 10:55 AM
USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/
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Party Promises To Clear Speight, Army Mutineers Of All Charges
SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Fiji coup frontman George Speight and his key advisers awaiting trial for treason will be granted immunity if the Conservative Alliance Natanitu Vanua Party gets into power in next month's general election, the Sun reports.
But in an editorial, the newspaper launched an angry attack on this "crazy baldhead" for contesting the election. Both rival daily papers, the Murdoch-owned Fiji Times and the Government-owned Daily Post, made no editorial comment.
CAMV party organiser and spokesperson Metuisela Mua confirmed the amnesty would also be granted for soldiers involved in the mutiny at army headquarters last November 2, including former members of the military's now disbanded elite Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit.
The disgraced former Fiji Intelligence Service chief confirmed the amnesty proposal when he appeared on a talkback show in the Fijian language on national radio on Wednesday night.
Mua, who was stripped of his lieutenant-colonel rank when he defied the military commander's orders that he and other army officers sever links with Speight and his supporters at the height of the political crisis last year, was questioned about the mob that operated out of Parliament after Speight's abortive coup of 19 May 2000.
The Sun reported that a caller said he could not reconcile the fact that people fighting for indigenous rights would have the courage to shoot and kill other members of the indigenous community.
Mua said he was not in Parliament throughout the 56 days Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his Government members were kept hostage.
"We didn't order those killings," Mua said. "But I admit that some of the things that happened during those days were unfortunate and regrettable."
Mua denied that his party was supportive of coups and was behind the illegal overthrow of Chaudhry's Government last year.
But in its editorial, the Sun said an angry "no" to any amnesty for the coup accused.
"That failed coup leader George Speight is not the favourite son of this newspaper is a well-known fact," the paper said.
"So we cannot really stop ourselves from expressing shock and anger at recent events involving this crazy baldhead.
"First, he was allowed to attend nomination day for aspiring candidates in next month's general election.
"To say that he is only standing because of requests from the vanua is laughable. If that vanua meant the province of Tailevu, then someone is lying ...
"Even the way Speight and Ratu Timoci Silatolu were made to appear for nominations at Nausori on Thursday was interesting to say the least.
"For some yet to be known reasons, what used to be the slow wheels of bureaucracy in the prison and police departments went on full speed mode."
The Sun asked why there was special treatment for the accused men.
"In fact, what is so damn special about the two men that they deserve this?
"For kidnapping and holding hostage for 56 days the elected Prime Minister of the land and his government ministers?
"For taking this land through the horror and terror of last year, where thousands of people lost their jobs and thousands more went home with reduced working hours and pay?"
The Sun said that the choices before the voters of Fiji - of those in Tailevu and Rewa especially - were clear and distinct: "It's either a tick for sanity or irrationality, for right or wrong."
+++niuswire

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