U.S. Denies CIA Involvement in Fiji Coup
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The U.S. Consulate today accused two publications in Australia and one in New Zealand of waging a disinformation campaign by alleging CIA involvement in Fiji’s May 14 coup.
In a five-page statement, the consulate accused the publications of printing ″no more than an illogical web of fabrications, half-truths, facts taken out of context and unfounded allegations.″
Asked about the statement, a consulate official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the denial was issued because allegations of CIA involvement ″keep popping up″ six months after the coup in Fiji, an island nation in the South Pacific 2,000 miles northeast of Sydney.
The statement accused the Sydney Morning Herald, a leading Australian daily; the authoritative Sydney-based Pacific Islands Monthly; and the New Zealand newsletter Wellington Confidential of engaging in a ″widespread disinformation effort.″
The statement reiterated Washington’s condemnation of the coup, and described as ″excellent″ the United States’ relationship with the government of Timoci Bavadra, who was ousted as prime minister.
It rejected specific media allegations, including a claim that the U.S. aid director in the Fiji capital of Suva, William Paupe, worked for the CIA.
The statement also said a meeting in Suva between the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Gen. Vernon Walters, and coup leader Col. Sitiveni Rabuka shortly before the coup was to discuss Fiji’s role in the U.N.’s Middle East peacekeeping force. Rabuka was leader of the Fijian troops in the force.
It said the United States supplied M-16 automatic rifles to Fiji’s royal military forces to ensure that it was ″appropriately equipped″ for its role in the peacekeeping force.
Most flights by U.S. military aircraft in and out of Fiji before and after the coup were connected with a visit to the island group by the hospital ship USS Mercy, the statement said.
It said other flights related to a medical evacuation and U.S. involvement in a meeting of the Fiji Civil Aviation Authority.
The statement went on to deny media claims that the United States planned to establish a military base in Fiji.
″The U.S. government formally and publicly deplored and condemned the coup and suspended all economic, technical and military assistance following the takeover,″ it said.
″The American ambassador (C. Edward Dillery) had departed shortly afterward and has not been replaced,″ the statement said. ″These are hardly the actions of a government which had encouraged or supported the coup.″
Rabuka said he staged the coup and another on Sept. 25 to protect the rights of indigenous Fijians, a 47 percent minority of the 715,000 population. Indians, d he declared Fiji a republic and ended its membership in the Commonwealth.
In Fiji, the government today announced the immediate lifting of a nightly curfew imposed after the Sept. 25 coup. The curfew originally took effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. But was later shortened to 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
An official spokesman said the curfew was lifted ″in the public interest″ but would be reimposed if there was a disruption to public order.