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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06SUVA516
2006-11-23 20:21:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Suva
Cable title:  

FIJI UPDATE FRI. 11/24: PM OFFERS OLIVE BRANCH;

Tags:   PREL  MARR  ASEC  CASC  FJ 
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VZCZCXRO7400
OO RUEHPB
DE RUEHSV #0516/01 3272021
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 232021Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY SUVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3474
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1391
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0984
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1172
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SUVA 000516 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2016
TAGS: PREL MARR ASEC CASC FJ
SUBJECT: FIJI UPDATE FRI. 11/24: PM OFFERS OLIVE BRANCH;
POLICE WIDEN RFMF INVESTIGATIONS; BUDGET PASSES;
MULTI-PARTY CABINET DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE

REF: A. STATE 190257

B. SUVA 512 (AND PREVIOUS)

C. USDAO SUVA 201455Z NOV 06

Classified By: Amb. Dinger. Sec. 1.4 (B,D).

Summary
-------


1. (C) Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Commander
Bainimarama has declined to receive a U.S. message (Ref A)
during his holiday in New Zealand. We are attempting to
schedule delivery to RFMF senior officers in Suva. We did
deliver on 11/22 Ref. A's short message for PM Qarase. The
UK DATT in Wellington had a conversation with Bainimarama
which confirmed the Commodore's coup intent. Fiji Police
Commissioner Hughes has told the media that seven
investigations are under way against senior RFMF leaders, and
the scope is widening to include behind-the-scenes inciters.
In Parliament, PM Qarase reiterated he is willing to discuss
issues with the Army. Fiji's 2007 budget passed easily,
though four Fiji Labor Party Ministers joined their party in
voting against. Five FLP Ministers were absent. PM Qarase
and FLP leader Chaudhry are discussing a way out of the
multi-party Cabinet quandary. End summary.

Tracking the elusive Commodore


--------------------------




2. (C) Embassies Wellington and Suva have been involved in
attempting to deliver Ref A talking points to RFMF Commander
Bainimarama. After Embassy Wellington was rebuffed by
Bainimarama's staff, the Suva DATT contacted the Commodore on
11/23. Bainimarama made clear he has no interest in a
conversation with the U.S. in New Zealand, preferring to have
any conversation on his return to Fiji o/a Nov. 29. (A rumor
is floating that he might return as early as Nov. 27.) Given
the delay, we intend to provide the essence of the talking
points to RFMF senior leadership currently in Fiji as soon as
that can be arranged. As of COB 11/24, RFMF leaders in Suva
were unavailable. Acting Commander Teleni was reportedly
meeting all day with Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) mediators,
theoretically a positive signal. However...

Bainimarama to UK DATT: coup is intent


--------------------------




3. (C) We hear from our British colleagues that Bainimarama's
conversation with the UK DATT in Wellington on 11/23
paralleled Ref C conversation with our DATT on 11/20. The
Commodore made clear that he intends to remove the Qarase
Government, without bloodshed if possible. He believes Fiji
domestic issues require that drastic action, and, while he
acknowledges strong concerns from the U.S., Australia, New
Zealand, and the UK, he is not swayed by them.

Police Commissioner says investigations are widening


--------------------------



--------------------------




4. (C) In the face of RFMF calls for his removal, Police
Commissioner Hughes informed the media on 11/23 that seven
separate police investigations are under way against
Bainimarama and his senior officers. Hughes added that
officers and their troops cannot commit an unlawful act and
later argue they were just following orders. "That doesn't
wash." Hughes also stated that "more than ten" politicians,
civil servants, and former military officers are under
investigation for allegedly inciting Bainimarama to act
against the Government. Hughes told us on 11/23 his own
assessment is that the RFMF's latest threats are possibly
bluffs, as in the past. He said that certainly RFMF officers
have made remarks and laid plans, but Hughes is not convinced
that, if Bainimarama gives the order, the ranks will follow,
at least not for long.

Qarase offers olive branch


--------------------------




5. (U) In Parliament during final budget speeches on 11/22,
PM Qarase included a comment about the current civil-military
tension, stating the Government does not see the military as
an adversary, and stressing he is open to a discussion of all
contentious issues, with the proviso that rule of law must be
maintained. In the end, the budget passed with 40 yes votes
(the ruling coalition plus the two opposition leaders), 26 no
votes (all Fiji Labor Party members present and voting), and
5 missing (FLP Ministers; three were overseas on official
trips that Qarase arranged to protect them from having to
vote, and two were in hospital).

Qarase and Chaudhry talking multi-party solution


--------------------------

---

SUVA 00000516 002 OF 002




6. (C) The five FLP Ministers who did not vote are now
subject of a tug of war between Qarase and FLP leader
Chaudhry over loyalties: to Cabinet or to party. Qarase has
written to the four FLP Ministers who voted against the
budget demanding their resignations from Cabinet. Chaudhry
has said publicly that, if the four are forced to resign, the
FLP will take all its Ministers out of the multi-party
Cabinet. Qarase told us the evening of 11/23 that he had a
"very productive" private meeting with Chaudhry that
afternoon. Qarase believes he has out-maneuvered Chaudhry.
Both leaders realize the "multi-party Cabinet" is extremely
popular in Fiji. (Unpublished Tebbutt polling confirms
that.) If the multi-party Cabinet disintegrates, the leader
perceived to be at fault will suffer in public esteem.

Comment


--------------------------




7. (U) Suva is quiet going into the weekend, though the
politically aware are all on edge.
DINGER