Sunday, 4 November 2007 10:04 PM

Alleged Assassination Plots in Fiji

Fiji military and police have detained several people over alleged assassination plots on the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, interim Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, members of cabinet and senior military officers.

Late Saturday afternoon, the detainment began when millionaire businessman, Ballu Khan, was taken into police custody by military personnel. Local media reports state that Mr. Khan was badly injured when he was brought in by the military.

More detainments were made today, among them the Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Party Executive, Peceli Kinivuwai. SDL was the ruling party led by deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, who was overthrown by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in a military coup in December last year. Also among the detained are a former senior army officer and a high chief. The authorities have also stated that two NGOs are also involved in the plot along with some other countries, allegedly providing financial backing.

In a press conference today, Police Commissioner, Esala Teleni, said that there was credible information that the named and the detained were involved in a plot to assassinate the President, interim Prime Minister, interim government ministers and some senior military officers. However, so far, no charges have been laid.

Reactions to these developments have been swift. The New Zealand government has spoken out strongly as detained millionaire, Ballu Khan, is a New Zealand citizen. Representatives of the New Zealand High Commission have been denied entry into the Central Police Station in Suva where the detained are being kept, a breach of international law.
Others have called for evidence, stating that the authorities need to make evidence, if any, public to justify the current actions and to show that it is not just an attempt to delay the move towards democracy and also to take attention away from cases of military brutality leading to deaths that are still pending. This is a result of the concern that there has been no real evidence to date of corruption by the overthrown government, which is the reason the military gave for staging the December 5, 2006 coup.
Ballu Khan is the part-owner of Pacifc Connex, a company implicated by the military in one of its corruption claims against the overthrown SDL government.

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