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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 03:08 GMT 04:08 UK
Ex-Fijian PM faces mutiny charge
Sitiveni Rabuka
Mr Rabuka was charged after returning from India
Former Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has appeared in court in the capital Suva, on charges of inciting a mutiny in November 2000.

Prosecutors say he had urged soldiers to take part in an attempt to oust the commander of the armed forces. Mr Rabuka denies the charges.

He led two coups in 1987 and was later prime minister of a democratically elected government from 1992 to 1999.

The court appearance comes as Fiji nears the end of a week-long election.

Tense relations

Mr Rabuka was charged after returning from medical treatment in India on Thursday.

He is accused of inciting the mutiny at Fiji's military headquarters, Queen Elizabeth Barracks, in November 2000.

Fijians queue to vote in Suva

The mutiny came six months after a coup backed by some of the military had overthrown the Labour Party's Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister.

Fijian military chief Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had imposed martial law to end the May coup, and installed Laisenia Qarase of the indigenous Fijian-dominated Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party as prime minister.

Commodore Bainimarama was the target of the November mutiny. He was forced to flee for his life.

Mr Qarase's party won the last elections in 2001 comfortably but Commodore Bainimarama has criticised him for leniency towards the 2000 coup conspirators.

In the current election Mr Qarase is again up against Mr Chaudhry.

Polling closes on Saturday and counting starts on Monday.

Mr Chaudhry has alleged extra bogus ballot papers have been printed but Elections Supervisor Semesa Karavaki says there have been no irregularities in ballot production.

Relations between native Fijians and ethnic Indians, who make up almost 40% of the population, remain tense.

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