Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka, OBE, (born September 13, 1948) was Prime Minister of Fiji from 1992 to 1999. He later served as Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, and is currently Chairman of the Cakaudrove Provincial Council , a position he has held since 2002. He was reelected to this position for another three-year term on 13 April 2005.
Rabuka, a Sandhurst-trained Army colonel, emerged suddenly from obscurity on 13 May 1987 when he staged the first of two military coups to reassert ethnic Fijian supremacy, following the 1987 election, which had brought an Indo-Fijian (ethnic Indian)-dominated government to power. Deposing the elected government, he handed power over to the Governor-General, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, a high chief whom he expected to implement ethnic Fijian interests. When, however, Ganilau attempted to reinstate the abrogated constitution, Rabuka carried out a second coup on 28 September that year. He proclaimed a republic, abolishing the 113-year link to the British Monarchy. He handed over power on December 5 to an interim administration, headed by Ganilau as President and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as Prime Minister, but remained Commander of the Army and Minister of Home Affairs. Ganilau and Mara did not feel strong enough to dismiss Rabuka, but the public support they enjoyed as high chiefs was such that he did not feel strong enough to depose them. An uneasy truce existed between Ganilau and Mara on the one hand and Rabuka on the other.
Following the adoption in 1990 of a new Constitution that guaranteed ethnic Fijian domination of the political system, Rabuka was elected Prime Minister in 1992, when his Fijian Political Party won the general election. He won a subsequent election in 1994, and went on to surprise everybody by agreeing to negotiate with moderate leaders of the Indo-Fijian community to draft a controversial new Constitution, which removed most of the provisions that had biased the political system in favour of indigenous Fijians. The elections of 1999 were the first in many years to see real competition between ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians for power. Rabuka lost these elections, and was replaced by Mahendra Chaudhry, the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister.
Following his electoral defeat, Rabuka was elected Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs. He was forced to relinquish this post in 2001, however, in the wake of allegations made against him by former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara of complicity in the Fiji coup of 2000, which deposed both Mara and the Indo-Fijian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, on May 19, 2000. Claiming that the coup leader George Speight - who was then in custody and has since been convicted of treason - was only a front, Mara appeared on Close-Up on Fiji Television on April 30, 2001, and revealed that on May 21, 2000, two days after the coup, he had confronted Rabuka and Isikia Savua , the police chief, about their possible involvement in it. "I could see it in their faces," Mara declared. Ratu Mara told the programme that within half an hour of Speight's forcible occupation of the Parliament, Rabuka had telephoned Government House (the official residence of the President) to offer to form a government. He further alleged that the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit of the Army had been involved in the coup after receiving training on a farm owned by Rabuka. These charges were repeated on the floor of the Senate on 23 October 2004 by Adi Koila Nailatikau, Mara's daughter.
In 2004, the Fijian government announced that Rabuka would be appointed head of Fiji's mission in Washington (a post roughly equivalent to an ambassador). Continuing suspicions about his involvement in the 2000 coup, however, have stalled the appointment. As of December 2004, the situation remains unresolved.
Rabuka has denied these allegations. He has even called for Chaudhry to be reinstated as Prime Minister (despite the fact that Chaudhry was defeated in an election later held to restore democracy). Many critics believe that Rabuka, long known for his propensity to walk both sides of the street, is merely trying to salvage his own skin.
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