A bad year for Fiji dictator

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 05:00 05/01/2014
Frank Bainimarama
DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ
LEADER: Fiji coup leader Frank Bainimarama.

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It is one thing being dictator and army supremo but it is quite another controlling family weddings and what happens on New Year's Eve.

Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama has just suffered a mutiny against him, and it is personal - his only son and one time army private Meli has eloped with an ex-beauty queen.

The New Year's Eve wedding came exactly eight years after big sister Ateca's wedding was marred when her father's brother-in-law killed one of the guests.

When Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in December 2006, young Meli was among soldiers on the streets.

He was given an M16 automatic - but without any bullets or magazines. The commodore's suspicions about his own soldiers had good grounds: in 2000 they had tried to kill him.

Six months ago former Miss Idaho Teen USA and now journalist Hosanna Kabakoro, 21, moved into the Bainimarama family home.

She and Meli decided to marry on December 21, but a family row blew up and the couple left for Nadi - and a small family-free wedding on New Year's Eve at a luxury resort.

On New Year's Eve in 2006 Bainimarama gave his daughter Ateca away in marriage. At the reception at the Suva Yacht Club a guest, John Whippy, was said to have been drunk and insulting.

Bainimarama's brother-in-law, navy Commander Francis Kean, beat him to death.

It's been a hard year for the dictator; a court trial in November revealed several top officers had planned to kill him at one point.

This year might be better: Bainimarama says he is running for office at democracy-restoring elections.

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