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Riots Break Out in Fiji; Prime Minister Freed

May 20, 1987|From Times Wire Services

SUVA, Fiji — Riots broke out across the capital today with Fijian mobs attacking ethnic Indians, and the South Pacific island's governor general moved to form a caretaker government a day after a military coup collapsed.

The violence followed the release late Tuesday of Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra and his Indian-dominated Cabinet, who had been held under house arrest since last Thursday, when Lt. Col. Sitivani Rabuka stormed the Parliament and announced the military was in control.

Fijians attacked ethnic Indians in the streets and clashed with a large crowd of Indians near the Government House before soldiers ended the disturbance, witnesses said.

Also, about 200 Fijian youths yelling support for Rabuka beat up ethnic Indians holding a prayer meeting, then ran through the streets smashing car windows and punching Indian bystanders, Australian Associated Press said.

Queen Elizabeth II's representative, Governor General Ratu Penaia Ganilau, took temporary control of the government Tuesday and said he would call new elections.

Rabuka effectively surrendered his military rule after Ganilau declared that the new regime violated the constitution.

Bavadra vowed to hold a full inquiry into his overthrow and detention and to prosecute those involved in Thursday's coup.

"I will hold a royal commission into the whole thing," he said.

"Nothing is going to stop us from governing again," he said. "I know I am the prime minister. The governor general cannot do these things without my consent or advice."

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