September 15 2014, updated 3:37pm

'Lurking nations' in Fiji assassination plot

Last updated 00:00 04/11/2007
Reuters
TARGET: Fiji's military leader Vorque Bainimarama.
MICHAEL FIELD/Fairfax Media
OUTSIDE INVOLVEMENT: Fiji Police Commissioner Elesa Teleni, seen here in his earlier naval role, said the plot involved non government organizations and neighbouring countries, which he did not name.

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Unnamed neighbouring nations are behind a plot to assassinate Fiji military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji police claim.

A wave of arrests is underway in Fiji's capital Suva around the plot, including that of a prominent businessman who holds New Zealand citizenship.

Fiji born businessman Ballu Khan is believed to have been beaten by soldiers and his condition and whereabouts is not known.

At least 11 people have been taken in by the military and police including a powerful high chief, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata.

Parts of Suva around the Central Police Station have been blocked off today.

Fiji Police Commissioner Esala Teleni, who was appointed to the post by Bainimarama, says the plot involves non government organizations and neighbouring countries, which he did not name.

"There are efforts being made to create an unfavourable environment, that may provide excuses to certain lurking nations to interfere in the affairs of Fiji," he said.

Bainimarama, who staged a coup last December, was the centre of an assassination plot in November 2000 which saw eight soldiers killed.

That plot was led by disaffected Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) soldiers who had been linked to the 2000 George Speight coup.

Khan has previously been accused of hiring ex-CRW soldiers as security for his company in Suva.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the New Zealand High Commission has been refused access to Khan.

She condemned his treatment.

"We've been concerned from the time of the coup about the lawless behaviour which denied people their rights," she told the ABC.

Fiji human rights activist Shamima Ali has told the Fiji Times that Khan was seriously injured when soldiers delivered him to the Suva Central Police Station.

"The brutality by the military is unacceptable, illegal and unconstitutional," she said.

No charges have been laid against Khan at this stage.

Khan's Auckland sister Nur, has told Fairfax Media her brother was seized yesterday as he drove from Nadi to Suva.

"Its just unbelievable," the Auckland woman said.

"Where is the proof? They have just grabbed him".

"The New Zealand Government should step and do something."

Khan is CEO of Tui Management Services, a software supplier, and on the board of Pacific Connex Ltd, a company co-owned with traditional Fijian chiefs.

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The military appointed police commissioner, former navy captain Esala Teleni, has just told a press conference in Suva that the new plot involved members of a disbanded special forces group, cabinet ministers and senior army officers.

"Intelligence reports have also highlighted hat individuals who had plotted this assassination may have the backing of certain non-government organisations who have financially contributed to the plots," Teleni said.

He said neighbouring countries were involved but did not name them.

"We have rounded up individuals in the alleged plot in the assassination of the Prime Minister and others and we suspect that initiation will involve arms and explosives.

" Teleni said they had been monitoring plots by CRW members, businessmen, high chiefs and prominent members of political parties.

"Through credible intelligence we were able to ascertain that these individuals were adamant in their conduct and venture on a mission to destabilize the peace and good order in the country.

"The real threat of the use of arms and explosives was imminent."

He said the arrests of Khan and others was necessary to prevent unwarranted blood shed.

Ratu Inoke Takivekata, who is the paramount chief from the district that former coup plotter George Speight lived in, was arrested for his role in the 2000 mutiny and bid then to kill Bainimarama.

Earlier this year he was freed on appeal.

- Fairfax Media

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