Fiji Labour Party Leader and former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has condemned the appointment of former military officer Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini as Fiji’s Acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Chaudhry in a statement said Tarakinikini’s name has been closely linked with senior RFMF officers who supported the 2000 coup and army intelligence reports showed him attending destabilisation meetings with former Police Commissioner Savua and ethno-nationalist Apisai Tora prior to the coup.
“Tarakinikini escaped being brought to justice when former Prime Minister LaiseniaQarase facilitated his appointment as Senior Planning Officer with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York in March 2001. He stayed in this position for 20 plus years unable to return to Fiji under the FijiFirst Government.”
“Former Army Commander and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had made it clear that he would be arrested on his return to Fiji to answer to charges relating to the 2000 coup and the Army mutiny in November of that year.”
“George Speight named him to take over as RFMF Chief of Staff in the plot to remove Army Commander Bainimarama days after the takeover in Parliament. Later, at the time of the Army mutiny, he was again named to take over as Chief of Staff by the rebel CRW soldiers involved in the mutiny.”
“The RFMF Board of Inquiry Report set up in August 2000 to investigate Army involvement in the coup questions a number of Tarakinikini’s actions at the time of the crisis, including a call he made to the Army camp at 2.30am on 19 May wanting to speak to a CRW soldier closely linked to the takeover later that morning.”
“On the day of the coup, while LT-Col Viliame Seruvakula, Commanding Officer 3 FIR, was desperately trying to get orders for the Army to step in and stop the rioting, burning and looting taking place in Suva city, Tarakinikini advised against doing anything.”
“He later told the RFMF Board of Inquiry that his advice to the Army command was:“Until we receive a legal order, Suva can be gutted …but we cannot go out now.”
“Tarakinikini’s appointment should be rescinded and he should be brought back to Fiji to face charges on all the coup and mutiny-related allegations against him.”
Chaudhry claims the appointment is also irregular and in breach of the establishment rules in the civil service in that a person cannot be recruited to an acting position from outside the service and is urging Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka to reconsider the appointment.