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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06SUVA525 2006-11-28 23:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Suva
Cable title:  

FIJI UPDATE 11/29: CURIOSITY ABOUT WELLINGTON

Tags:   PREL MARR PGOV ASEC CASC FJ 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0913
OO RUEHPB
DE RUEHSV #0525/01 3322304
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 282304Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY SUVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3489
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1404
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0997
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 1185
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SUVA 000525 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2016
TAGS: PREL MARR PGOV ASEC CASC FJ
SUBJECT: FIJI UPDATE 11/29: CURIOSITY ABOUT WELLINGTON
MEETING; RFMF SUVA EXERCISE; PRESIDENT STATEMENT?

REF: A. DURAN E-MAIL 11/29

B. SUVA 519 AND PREVIOUS

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

Summary
--------


1. (C/NF) Fiji hungers for details of what went on in the
meeting between PM Qarase and RFMF Commander Bainimarama in
Wellington. Tonight, the RFMF is conducting an exercise in
the Suva area, preparing for the possibility of foreign
military intervention. We issued a warden notice. President
Iloilo may consider making a public statement on the crisis.
Police Commissioner Hughes reportedly will be in Australia
for the next month. The RFMF sent an emissary to the UK High
Commissioner today to suggest the flap over yesterday's
meeting with diplomats was mainly an RFMF-Australia issue.
The emissary said UNSYG Annan's announcement of PKO
repercussions if there is a coup caused "shock" within the
RFMF. Some New Zealand diplomats returned to Suva, as London
ordered its Suva mission to offer an "authorized departure"
package, which nobody accepted. End summary.

Qarase/Bainimarama Meet in NZ


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




2. (C) As noted ref A, NZ MFAT reports that the
Qarase-Bainimarama meeting was "a considered and serious
discussion" of the Commodore's demands. PM Qarase reportedly
showed some flexibility but insisted throughout on due
process, constitutionality, and the rule of law. Speaking
to Fiji media, Qarase said that progress was made, and that
further consultations are a possibility. Bainimarama did not
speak to the media after the meeting. We gather NZ FM Peters
in his press conference hinted at possibilities for further
facilitation, a sense of possible progress, though without
any of the details that would help one judge what is in the
cards.

RFMF to Conduct an Exercise Tonight in Suva


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




3. (C) Early this afternoon, after the meeting in Wellington
concluded, the RFMF issued a press release stating that it
would be conducting an exercise in the greater Suva area
beginning at midnight tonight, November 29. The exercise,
which will last three hours, "will entail securing strategic
areas within the greater Suva area and also the firing of
illumination rounds in the sea near Nukulau, Makuluva, and
the entrance to Suva Harbor." The press release urges the
public to exercise caution if near these areas, but not to be
alarmed by troops in battle gear. The press release
concludes that "the exercise is in anticipation of any
foreign intervention and the RFMF is taking all precautionary
measures." The Embassy issued a warden notice this afternoon
advising all U.S. citizens to avoid the areas where the
exercise will take place.

EU Reps Call on President Iloilo


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




4. (C) The EU Representative in Fiji, the UK High
Commissioner, and the French Ambassador called on President
Iloilo yesterday, ostensibly to give him an EU statement on
the situation in Fiji. During the meeting, they called on
the President to make a public statement in favor of the
constitution and the rule of law. Iloilo, who appeared alert
and lucid, replied that a public statement might be
appropriate, but that it would be necessary to wait for the
outcome of the New Zealand meeting. He gave no indication
what a public statement might say.

Police happenings


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




5. (C) There are media reports that Police Commissioner
Hughes, who was in Wellington with Qarase, plans to continue
on to Australia for an already-scheduled month-long holiday.
Hughes and his family received threats in recent days,
reportedly originating from within the RFMF. The spouse and
children departed for Australia two days ago. On the other
hand, when we last spoke with Hughes yesterday, it was, in
part, to finalize arrangements to assist him in transporting
to Suva a guitar he has purchased in the U.S. Acting Police
Commissioner Driver had a chat with emboff today and stressed
he is intent on having the police carry out all their
important functions, as usual.

A different slant on RFMF-diplomats flap


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




6. (C/NF) Paul Manueli, a former RFMF Commander, former Home

SUVA 00000525 002 OF 002


Affairs Minister, and sometime go-between for the military to
government, called on the British High Commissioner this
morning, at the request of Acting RFMF Commander Teleni and
Land Forces Commander Driti. Manueli said the cause of
yesterday's virulent RFMF response after a meeting between
Western diplomats and RFMF leaders in Suva was the presence
in the meeting of the Australian High Commissioner. That was
like "a red rag to a bull." Manueli didn't even mention the
presence of the U.S. Ambassador as an issue. The UK High
Commissioner noted that Col. Driti's office had OKed the
meeting and had known all three diplomats were attending.
Manueli said yesterday's announcement by UNSYG Annan (Ref B)
re the effect of a coup on UNPKO responsibilities "had been a
shock" to the RFMF. Manueli said he is not confident a coup
can be avoided. He said the RFMF's present obsession is that
Australia will intervene militarily.

Comings and goings


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




7. (C) We hear that several New Zealand diplomats returned to
Suva today. Perhaps the threat to Kiwis is perceived a bit
lower now that FM Peters brokered a conversation. On the
other hand, London instructed the UK High Commission today to
offer an "authorized departure" package to staff. None
accepted it, thus seemingly accenting that this was a
judgment from afar, though a few staff have departed on
scheduled leave a few days earlier than originally planned.

Comment


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




8. C/NF) Fiji awaits word of what, if anything, changed with
the Wellington meeting. Many are pessimistic, and tonight's
"exercise" will make people nervous. It is possible, though,
that Kofi Annan's news re PKO, plus the firm messages, yet
again, from the diplomats yesterday, might cause some serious
rethinking of risks/rewards at lower levels of the RFMF.
Manueli's suggestion that the Aussie diplomat was the red
flag at yesterday's meeting illustrates the bad blood that
continues between the RFMF and the Aussies. The Aussie
diplomat was very measured in her remarks at the meeting, as
always. Manueli's explanation also causes one to wonder
about the irate phone calls Bainimarama made to the UK and
U.S. DATTs afterward. Something doesn't compute.
DINGER