Pacific Scoop

Accused Fiji colonel makes public plea against ‘hateful dictatorship’

Tevita Ului Mara

Lieutenant-Colonel Tevita Uluilakeba Mara ... calls for regime change in Fiji. Video: YouTube

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By the PMC news desk

One of the key military officers who helped  stage Fiji’s 2006 coup and was earlier this month charged with sedition in an alleged attempted mutiny case has made a passionate video plea calling for an end to the military dictatorship.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, a former Army Chief-of-Staff who commanded the Third Infantry Regiment of the Republic of Fiji Forces at the time of the coup in December 2006 until recently, had his statement posted on the Truthforfiji channel on YouTube.

He has reportedly “escaped” from Fiji to Tonga where he vowed to “tell the truth without fear of retribution”.

Tongan patrol boat

The Tongan Navy patrol boat Savea reportedly rescued a "chiefly person" near Fiji's Ono-i-Lau islands. Photo: FBC News

Colonel Mara blamed “political frivolities” of the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, for what he claimed was a plot against him and Land Force Commander Brigadier General Pita Driti.

The video statement was posted on  May 14 – the same date of the first coup in Fiji in 1987 and the arrival of the first shipload of 497 indentured labourers from India on board the Leonidas in 1879.

Colonel Mara said in his statement calling for “regime change”:

“Friends and contacts in the army, as well as the police, warned me of a plan hatched by Khaiyum to utilise the provisions of the Public Emergency Act and Crimes Decree 2010 in order to incarcerate [Brigadier] Pita Driti and I for at least a year on trumped up charges of sedition and attempted mutiny without the opportunity to defend ourselves in open court.

“Considering the state of corruption of the judicial system and the extent to which it is controlled entirely by the political frivolities of the Attorney-General, I was obliged to take these warnings seriously.

“For inexplicable reasons, Commodore Bainimarama, weakened by ill health, morally and intellectually bankrupt, is no more than Aiyaz Khayum’s [sic] hand puppet.  The advice which we, as senior officers had offered the commander in an attempt to soften the regime’s approach to public dissent were seen by Khayum [sic] as a direct threat to his person and his megalomania is inspired entirely by the self importance of a lonely and inadequate man.

“Endowed with no leadership qualities and incapable of understanding the simplest principles of decency and respect even in a society that is grounded on such virtues, he is the sole architect of the cruelties which have sadly become common in our daily life.

“When I was rescued by the Tongan Navy, I asked to be brought to Nuku’alofa where under the sure protection of King George’s government I shall be able to tell the truth, without fear of retribution, about the tragic oppression which stifles my beloved land.

“When this hateful dictatorship has been eradicated, all of us who once served it shall answer to the Fijian people for the part we played and I will gladly submit to their verdict.”

Key officer
Ratu Tevita Kapaiwai Lutunauga Uluilakeba Mara is a Fijian career soldier with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He is also the youngest son of the late President and founding prime minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who was ousted by the George Speight attempted coup in 2000.

On 3 February 2001, Colonel Mara was named Army Chief of Staff succeeding Colonel Meli Saubulinayau, a close relative of his.

This position is the fourth highest in the Fijian military, behind that of the Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Deputy Commander and Chief-of-Staff RFMF Brigadier-General Mohamed Aziz and the Land Force Commander Brigadier-General Pita Driti.

Mara held the position for several months, before he was appointed commanding officer of the Third Infantry Regiment, a key position in the Fiji Army as he controls the infantry division.

In December 2006, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces took control of Fiji in a bloodless coup. The army claimed it would remove corruption and corrupt politicians and to return to barracks within a year. Lieutenant-Colonel Mara was in charge of the 3 FIR on that day and for the next 4 years.

He witnessed from the inside how power had allegedly “corrupted the key players in the regime” and how now they had “forgotten their original objectives as they desperately cling to power”.

Left Fiji
Colonel Mara’s supporters said he had left Fiji so he could speak freely about the need for regime change in Fiji.

Driti and Mara appeared in court in Suva on May 4 for allegedly breaching the Crimes Decree.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation News said Mara was charged with one count of sedition under the Crimes Decree. Driti was charged with sedition and attempted mutiny.

Mara was released on bail with no bond posted and was represented by Suva lawyer Devanesh Sharma.

He was due to appear in court again on May 30.

Since October, Mara and Driti have been on leave.

Two months ago, the Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga denied that there were any splits among senior military officers.

Colonel Mara’s statement on YouTube

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  1. Loruama Tawawili, 15. May 2011, 2:56

    This move by Lt Col Roko Ului Mara clearly support what we the Democratic advocates in Fiji had been saying all along that Bainimarama was only a scrape goat of A Khaiyum.
    Now the truth has come out abd the Tikoitoga declaration of Military Unity will soon be tested . It is indeed a pity that once very respected Institution of the Military is now nothing more that a Power hungry body that no one wants to be associatyed wit it now. Fiji does not need a military force.

  2. puripurimahn, 15. May 2011, 8:11

    a tu na da…isa na dina, lua kece mai…sega ni ura me damu nikua…tagane o iko…me lala mai na bareki me qai macala na dina savasava koya dau vunautaki tiko mai delainabua…….oso….

  3. Thakur Ranjit Singh, 15. May 2011, 8:58

    If this is true and genuine, then it is very worrying. What I fail to understand is: Military is 99.5% comprised of i Taukei, similar majority rule is seen in the Police, Navy and top levels of the Civil Service. So, as claimed by Ratu Ului, how can one Indo Fijian manipulate all these people? He (the Indo Fijian) also has no guns, so how can he outwit the professional Fijian soldiers and the i Taukei bureaucrats filling the top echelons of Civil service. I fail to understand this jig saw puzzle. Can somebody please explain this?
    I will also not hold my breath out for the Vanua of Lau to come in support of Ratu Ului. You remember, in 2000, a half-caste urban goon, George Speight, not even full Fijian, succeeded in the unceremonious removal of Ratu Ului’s father, Ratu Sit Kamisese Mara as Fiji’s President. Then, indigenous Fijians in general and Lauans in particular supported the might of guns, George Speight, indigenous superiority and ethno-nationalism. They then trampled on democracy, calling it a foreign flower. They desecrated on the altar of rule of law in 2000. They had then sided with anarchy and the law of the jungle. What makes you think they will make any bold steps now to come to aid of Ratu Mara’s son?

  4. Gone Qase.., 15. May 2011, 13:41

    Mara is a spoil child, who is scared, and felt his privileged as a RT is crumbling down.. the ordinary people of Lau has finally seen the truth, so the only option he has was trying to convince some stupid kaiviti, that Bainimara and everyone else in Fiji is wrong, Using his RaTu. sonalevu title in trying to dived the army, but it didn’t work , The Army is smarter then that.They (Army) want to see the reform has taken shape to be implemented successfully, for us and for future generations of ALL Fijians.

    We need to send a clear message to Tonga, U cant harbor a fugitive. They need to send Mara back to Fiji to face trials.
    If the Royal family in Tonga try to protect him, they will be viewed by Fiji
    as an enemy of the state.

    If Mara was a true chief, He should have been in the forefront advocating the changes that is taking place in Fiji for a better future for all not just for the chosen few.

    The people of Fiji from all races and backgrounds will truly support any RaTu or Adi who truly believed in these changes.

    True Chiefs should see themselves as co-equal to all people not worrying about his or her status….people will rally around them if he lives a humble respectable life.. respect has to be earned…but not to be expected..

    Long Live Bainimarama and Khaiyum.. The people of Fiji including the Army and Navy is here for you.

  5. Vueti Viti, 16. May 2011, 5:02

    THAKUR RANGIT SINGH SAID: If this is true and genuine, then it is very worrying. What I fail to understand is: Military is 99.5% comprised of i Taukei, similar majority rule is seen in the Police, Navy and top levels of the Civil Service. So, as claimed by Ratu Ului, how can one Indo Fijian manipulate all these people? He (the Indo Fijian) also has no guns, so how can he outwit the professional Fijian soldiers and the i Taukei bureaucrats filling the top echelons of Civil service. I fail to understand this jig saw puzzle. Can somebody please explain this?

    Mr. Singh, are you asking this question on your own or has someone else set you up?

  6. Tim, 16. May 2011, 17:20

    @ THAKUR:
    Interesting that you couch this in terms of race – as though that might be the ONLY driving factor in all of this.
    I’m quite surprised given the sophistication of some of your contributions in the media. That comment (ablve) shows naivety in the extreme.
    Surely you are aware that Bainimarama has a past – much of which he’d rather not become public (just as others have). Surely you also know that Bainimarama posesses animal survival instinct rather than any intellectual aptitude, is given to fits of temper, and is the definition of paranoia. Certainly a number of people associated with ‘December 2006’ were aware of it – some now can’t believe their luck in extracating themselves from the mess that has resulted unscathed.
    It only takes someone (REGARDLESS of race, and slightly more intelligent) who is possession of knowledge FB would rather didn’t become public; OR some other hold in order to be able to manipulate the man. It wouldn’t be the first time. And that QUITE APART from an ability to provide treats and trinkets to a man given to crave mana and respect – bestowed rather than earned. FB needed all the assistance possible to obtain any ‘certificate’ that was ever issued in his name (as an achievement).
    I make no judgements as to the preceding regimes – be they Qarase’s or others. All had their faults. There is a saying: “not the brains of Britain” – surely you’ve worked out that FB isn’t the brains of FIJI. If you haven’t then you’ve no business at LEAST going along with the idea that you are somehow an ‘expert’ commentator on matters Fiji.
    What I do know (and incidently by and large from the comments of [Indo & indigenous] family memberswhose friends – like you – are all clamouring to get the hell out of the place, that NOTHING will be solved by justifiably peeved off Indo-Fijians being complicit in crapping on indigenous rights. It terms of those wanting to allocate blame and hold people accountable – the wrong people are being targeted. And if the right people to target are those associated with past colonial masters, it seems utterly stupid courting new colonial powers (such as China).
    Cargo cults seem to be alive and well (at least in FB’s eyes).

  7. Prof. Sarveshwar Pande, 16. May 2011, 20:58

    Qarase’s government went down due to corruption and the rest is history. Bainimara `revolution’ was an awakening for Fiji and so far things have been going quite well. If any member of the revolution is identified as corrupt, he or she is bound to meet the same fate as their pre-decessors. Now the Bainimarama team deserve praise for presenting Fiji in such a way that we could all say …once more; `Fiji the way the world should really be!’….with the elections coming over, drama by Mara and his aides are bound to surface…..however, no-one takes Commander- Bainimarama for a ride (and I mean no-one)…..I am sanguine, he knows that there are some who have written him off but thats the way he wants them to think… and then…..pow!…he bounces back with a BANG!….. Mr Khayum, the heat is also on you….prove your critics wrong, let them bite the dust……you now have the opportunity where you would be remembered with fondness by the masses or cursed …. the onus is on YOU sir!.

  8. dina savasava, 17. May 2011, 15:34

    dina savasava…kweeuu……..