Pacific Scoop

Insight Report: Unease in the Barracks – Is Bainimarama’s Rule Under Threat?

Savali editor Tupuola Terry Tavita. (Photo courtesy of Savali.)

Insight Report – By Tupuola Terrence Tavita, in Apia.

There could very well be a third coup in Fiji very soon, this time from inside the barracks. The word from reliable sources in Suva (who wish to remain anonymous) is that the powerful Military Council – most of them from Fiji’s chiefly families – have become disenchanted with how Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama is running things.

The Military Council is maneuvering to call the shots from inside the barracks. One name that has come across more often now – and remember this one – is Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba – or popularly known as Roko Ului – a son of the late president Ratu Sir Kamasese Mara.

Roko Ului sits on the Military Council and more importantly, is the commander of the Fiji military’s Third Battalion. This battalion holds the guys who carry the biggest guns in the military and look after the national armory.

Unlike Frank Bainimarama, Ratu Tevita has very strong traditional alliances. One of his sisters – Adi Koila is married to current Fiji president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and another, Adi Ateca, is married to the current Minister of Fiji Home Affairs Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Fiji sources say there is significance in changes made to some powerful positions within the Military Government. They say, departing Police Commissioner and Christian fundamentalist Esala Teleni was removed from his position. So was the recent permanent secretary of Finance, John Prasad – who holds a New Zealand passport and is believed to be heading back to Auckland this week. Sources say both calls came from inside the barracks – from the Council – for these two to get out.

Our sources say the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum – who has been
designing those draconian emergency decrees – will be next. Slowly the
Council is cutting Bainimarama’s support from under him.

The plan will eventually remove Bainimarama as well. Our sources say he definitely will not last till 2014 where he has promised Fiji will go to the polls. In fact, they tell us, Frank wont last 12 months.

The criticism suggests Bainimarama made the perennial mistake of leaving the barracks and went running around pretending to be Prime Minister. Flying off to China, to the Emirates and Burma among other places to solicit international support for his junta. This while others in the military – in the Security Council – have been slowly asserting themselves in the barracks.

This is the reality of military governments and military dictatorships. You suppress the media, scurry the opposition, leaving you and your military ilk at the top.

But then as best illustrated in William Golding’s award winning book Lord of the Flies, you start to turn on each other.

Tupuola Terry Tavita is the editor of the Samoan government newspaper Savali news.


  1. Anon-u-mess, 2. September 2010, 12:34

    this story should start off like this.. Once upon a time in a land far far away …….. why is pacific scoop allowing these kinds of stories to run, we all know there is not a grain of truth to the story and its intended to cause instability in Fiji…

  2. Viliame, 2. September 2010, 12:37

    This is old news.. every month we hear of a split in the military, ever month the AG is being sacked…. same old rumours, no fact and its always a (high ranking source) that supplies the information. Nothing is happening in fiji and i can bet a years salary that none of this is true..

  3. Julie, 2. September 2010, 13:16

    @anon-u-mes – HA HA HA.. well said! It is clear that this is just anti government propaganda and is another attack on Fiji to cause trouble. What i don’t understand is why this story is given any space on Pacific Scoop are they supporting a suggested coup??? What is to be gained by printing such utter lies?

  4. julius3, 2. September 2010, 13:48

    I agree with Anon-u-mess. Why is Pacific Scoop publishing such fiction which one generally associates with blog-sites? Who is this person anyway – is he related to the fat samoan pm?

  5. julius3, 2. September 2010, 13:51

    you know while i respect the rights of individuals to express themselves … i am sure that this right does not entail the right to publish crap for public consumption?

  6. singh, 2. September 2010, 14:02

    i can tell you this…this Sole Tupuola wont be visiting fiji for anytime soon.

  7. julius3, 2. September 2010, 14:06

    Why is pacific scoop entertaining such articles which one would associate with blog sites? While there are many facts, (peripheral and irrelevant), the main message is speculative and inciteful. This article makes me wonder what the fuss about Fiji’s media decree is all about. Go Fiji! As the saying about bamboo goes, the stronger the breeze, the stronger the reeds. That’s Fiji today getting stronger despite the surrounding nonsense.

  8. S.Crenshaw, 2. September 2010, 14:40

    As a Samoan living in New Zealand for the past 15 years, Im always proud reading about stories back home…no doubt, I’ve supported whatever government that comes in (for the right reasons of course). However I cant seem to shake of the feeling that this Government (Malielegaoi’s) is bent on one thing and that’s to use all resources available to cut off relations with Fiji. Whats even worse is the fact that when you bang on about the conditions that the Fiji media currently operate under, we, SAMOANS here in NZ look at the way our own media in Samoa operate and think, maybe we need the same legislative pieces.
    I’m basing this on the relevance of the story to Samoa in general and the fact that its coming from a government newspaper is somewhat ‘un-diplomatic’…..perhaps Malielegaoi would like to learn from both Oz & NZ on how to maintain some diplomacy…it is fa’a samoa!

  9. Smurfaholic, 2. September 2010, 14:49

    WOW julius3, how can you call our PM a fat cat…he might be big, round and tubby but that doesnt make him a cat!!!!..sorry, a fat cat!!!

    i think that Pacific Scoop really is a blog site because its the only site that I usually look for something interesting to look at….besides, it makes interesting reading in the toilet….

    I know the guy that wrote this though….he’s a friend of a friend of mine…every now and again he’ll start talking about his work and how his “boss” pushes him to write this and that….apparently he gets paid well for it too..he’ll get some $$$$ in a brown & grey envelope…he recently spent alot of it in another pacific island country recently!!!

  10. Mere S, 2. September 2010, 15:25

    I am outraged that this story is allowed to be published without a grain of truth to it. I agree with that maybe the media decree, which everyone screamed about is now a very good thing to have. This story is nothing short of what one would expect on a blog site, now more families are destroyed because a so called journalist has been given the right to publish a story that has no truth to it. I ask the publishers of this site to take this story down, and return to decent reporting.

  11. Siti, 2. September 2010, 15:35

    Ah yes, Tupuola Terry Tavita, the mouth piece for the PM. I hear from a very reliable source (who wanted to remain nameless) that he was paid very well for this piece on Frank, it came straight from the PM himself. Well here is another piece of news that is 100% fact, he is now banned from entering Fiji, but he joins the ranks of other great journalists (thats called sarcasm) such as Michael Field.

  12. Vik Brisbane, 2. September 2010, 15:39

    Fiji will sort its own problem,just needs support from other countries
    can’t support or have anything good to say
    please then myob

  13. Croz Walsh, 2. September 2010, 15:49

    Do I detect a shift in Pacific Scoop’s normally balanced reporting on Fiji? There seem to have been an increase in anti-Bainimarama Government postings lately.

    As another writer has said, opinions yes, but sheer speculation no. Especially when it’s written by someone who has not been in Fiji for years and who relies on unnamed but obviously one-sided “insiders” for his information. This is not the sort of informed opinion that used to be common in Pacific Scoop.

    Tupuola, of course, may well be right, But so might be the punter who closes his eyes and picks his horse by stabbing his pen at a name in the betting guide. This is cystal ball stuff, not journalism. BTW, did you know that John Key was getting divorced? Neither did but it’s possible, isn’t it?

  14. coup supporter, 2. September 2010, 16:05

    @croz Finally a voice of reason, thank you Mr Walsh. Yes i also heard that John Key’s was getting divorced and he is intending to marry Julia Gillard, well as Mr Walsh said, its possible, isn’t it?

  15., 2. September 2010, 17:07

    Hi pacific scoop…i think you should concentrate in Samoa…with your PM not poke your nose in Fiji…do something constructive to move forward…..this is Fiji not yours….it is very stupid news and hopeless because inside the barrack that guy your informa may be he or she is pro Military or i may say against this Government….sorry to say that….plizzzzz do not spoil our good move…thanks..informaaaaaa.

  16. selwyn, 2. September 2010, 17:16

    Hi Croz, thanks for your comments they are very valuable as always. In answer to your first question, no there has not been a shift in Pacific Scoop’s reporting on Fiji. With this item, my view is it presents to the public audience what is being whispered about by some in private. In this regard it is doing its job. The issue of main importance is whether those who were once powerful in a chiefly sense remain satisfied with the current situation in Fiji, and if not, are their interests influencing the thinking of some inside Fiji’s military council. I would certainly welcome items that explore all sides of this issue for consideration for publishing.

  17. smurfaholic, 2. September 2010, 18:21

    your reasoning above is somewhat….laughable! you see, the writer would have somehow had to make sure that ‘these wispers’ were actually confirmed! i mean, c’mon, do we need another coup? As for those ‘who were once powerful in a chiefly sense’ as you put it implies one thing! that answer can correctly be answered had you read anything thats going on in Fiji, and I mean stuff that’s not being censored………….you’d find any interesting amount of support by all chiefs towards this government…and you wanna know why? because for once in our lives, we can give our children the education we didnt have….FOR FREE! and another thing, I’m a commoner and this government has made others like me feel equal, feel like I can finally want something and not have my status become a barrier!
    as for the wispers that you highlight in your reasoning, it pretty much is unprofessional, unbalanced and inaccurate which is something that journalists tend to defend against!
    If you wanted to “explore all sides of this issue” then you would do the most professional and ethical thing (assuming you know this) and seek confirmation!

  18. Croz Walsh, 2. September 2010, 18:38

    Bula Vinaka Selwyn, Thanks for your reply here and by email. I concede the media has a sniffer dog function and if Tupuola had done even a little more than just touch on the issues you raise, I’d agree the article did serve a useful function.

    But he didn’t, and most of his readers would have been left thinking there must (surely!) be fire behind his speculative smoke. My information, from various sources, is that it is wishful thinking aimed at destabilising and distracting the Fiji government. All previous “releases” on this theme have been proved wrong. On this one, we shall have to wait and see.

    I’d love to write something for you to balance the picture, but how can I write on an unfolding plot that does not seem to exist?

    Cheers, Croz

  19. Cassava patch running coach, 2. September 2010, 19:20

    Coup supporters and apologists have been in a spin today. Make no mistake, the Military council has serious concerns about where Fiji is heading and how the world views the current coup. Bainimarama and Khaiyum will go – like a few others they are practicing their cassava patch running. Welcome home soon Jone!

  20. Liu Muri, 2. September 2010, 19:24

    Well said, Croz.
    Talking about sniffer dog sniffing, this is a pleasure for the Lap Dog and the Spin Doctor of the Samoan Prime Minister, masquarading as a journalist and a defender of media freedom.

    I agree with Selwyn and am grateful that the Pacific Scoop is prepared to grant an opportunity for unhindered wider discussion on the subject, though sounding like crap at times.

  21. Mike, 2. September 2010, 19:57

    Where there is smoke there is fire!

    Khaiyum got the boot last night.

    Great job Tavita.

  22. kapil, 2. September 2010, 21:05

    oops…someone posted a intentioned bedtime story in the news…..c’mon writer you cant do this silly mistake. look let me teach you, fact goes in the paper and bulshit fairy tale as bed time. easy aye. now you try…..

  23. Freshy, 3. September 2010, 9:03

    Is it true that Khaiyum has been told to leave by the military council? Sure Tupuola might have a biased view (on behalf of the Samoan PM), and sure the author of Coup-Four-and-a-Half may seem anti-Bainimarama… so where are the un-biased, impartial media reports on this??? Oh that’s right, they’ve been muzzled by the Media Decree!

  24. Mike, 3. September 2010, 9:42

    Kapil, you can read your fairytale story to Croz.

    Khaiyum is gone.

    You are correct Freshy, the draconian media decree will not allow the local media to report it.

    In time, it will appear on Croz’s blog.

    Well done Tavita and Pacific Scoop.

  25. Jonah, 3. September 2010, 11:37

    Fiji is on a rapid downward spiral, but hey, the outside world won’t know about it with the media being gagged.

  26. General, 3. September 2010, 14:47

    Coups are considered normal in Fiji, so why are we surprised if another one happens soon?

  27. Kiwi John the all-seeing, 3. September 2010, 15:43

    What a bunch of dreamers. The commodore’s a buffoon, Fiji’s a complete basket case, and if what’s left of the military aren’t going to depose him, they’re as feeble as the rest of the Fijian population.

  28. Yahoo!, 3. September 2010, 15:47

    Ok let me get this right, the AG has gone?? but he was at two government meetings today, and has official appointments all weekend, and a press release from frank says its all ‘bloody rubbish’ so, just to wrap up for you. The AG is still employed and the PM and the military have both come out in support of him. Makes you all look a bit stupid for believing rumours dont you think?

  29. selwyn, 3. September 2010, 16:40

    The press release Yahoo! refers to is this issued this afternoon (The following text is unabridged and issued by the Government of Fiji.):

    Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama told chiefs of Naitasiri that unity is the essence for progress.

    Commodore Bainimarama, on Thursday evening, received a delegation of chiefs from 16 districts of the province who pledged their support to the Prime Minister and his Government.

    On behalf of the people of Naitasiri the chiefs presented their imatanigasau – traditional apology – for past indiscretions.

    “I’m very grateful for this gesture shown towards Government by chiefs of Naitasiri,” the Prime Minister said.

    “The presentation of imatanigasau signifies unity as well as your appreciation of Government’s policies and vision.

    “Today is a new beginning for the province and my Government. We should engage often in such forums to discuss issues that will benefit Fiji, especially our future generation.

    “We need to emphasize to our people and children the importance of unity for it is the essence of prosperity.

    “Successful changes will only happen when people are united over a common goal,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

    Two busloads of men and women including chiefs of all districts in the province were at Muanikau Road (Prime Minister’s residence) for the solemn presentation.

    In an open session, that followed the traditional ceremonies, the delegation was briefed on developments Government is implementing in Naitasiri.

  30. Gone Qase, 3. September 2010, 19:10

    I am very disappointed with pacific scoop for allowing this kind of sensationalizing, untruth. bias unchecked. non verifiable stories to be reported on your website…is this what journalism are about today?

    I guess Freedom of the press is just a cover to print what ever lies you like to boost your ratings… while we on the same topic another Nz news organization – TV NZ face legal action for defamation and damages for reckless reporting in Fiji read more …

  31. Liu Muri, 3. September 2010, 19:29

    Victor Lal, a supposedly academic at Oxford University wrote in SDL Blogsite Coup 4.5 that Aiyaz Khayum has been sent home. This appears to be a load of cowdung from somebody who hitherto has been considered a credible source. This is what has been reported from Fiji this afternoon:

    “Anyone caught spreading rumours that could destabilize the country will be prosecuted says the permanent secretary to the Prime Minister’s office Colonel Pio Tikoduadua.

    He made the comments this afternoon dismissing widespread speculation of a split in government and the dismissal of the Attorney General.

    “Recent speculations have suggested that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General have both been dismissed. Let me state this is absolutely not true. There have also been rumours that there is a split between the government and the military. Let me categorically state, on behalf of the office of the Prime Minister, that these rumours are not true.”

    Tikoduadua says people need to put these malicious rumors to rest and focus on moving the country forward without such distractions.

    He says in the last few weeks, there have been widespread rumors intended to undermine the government, destabilize the economy and create fear and uncertainty in the people.

    Tikoduadua says there is no split between the government and the military and the government remains resolved in taking Fiji forward.”

    Hope this rests the case, and the lapdog of Samoan PM can rest assured that his load of cowdung has been regarded as such.

  32. Gone Qase, 3. September 2010, 20:22

    This is a good scoop, from Fiji to Samoa The intention is to spin the rumor – New Zealand foreign minister predicted another coup in Fiji soon.

    read more:

  33. anony, 4. September 2010, 21:54

    This is a joke. A clear example of a wannabe journalist from an insignificant and unknown media org trying to get attention by writing rubbish. When did this guy last visit Fiji? His source could be any tom, dick and harry on suva street. Amateur piece from a newsletter writer and samoan pm publicity officer poking his fat nose where it does not belong. We want to read articles from real journalists not some village idiot from samoa who would be a cadet reporter if he was a journalist in Fiji.

  34. Jone, 6. September 2010, 15:26

    Anony, don’t count your chickens mate. I have a friend who is working for the Fiji govt and he told me that things are not going well in Fiji. And why do you think the outside world are not hearing about it? media being censored, that’s why. Of course FB will only want good news to be reported.
    You’ll probably the first person to apply for a visa when the next coup occurs.

  35. anony, 11. September 2010, 21:22

    @jone. Things have not been going well in Fiji for a long time now. Any source in Fiji can tell you that. But reporting things based on speculation or something you want to believe is wrong.

  36. JONE LIUMURI, 2. June 2011, 13:21

    Maybe it is time to go and every thing will be left behind so I think some people are just trying to fulfill the PROPHERCY and put their name in the History book where they can be remembered and acounted for the things they had done but the end of all this things is that you will be judged in everything you did ,where nobody else will be there for you or against it is you and you alone,so tighten up the loose ends Bro.. BAI.