New Year's eve bad day for Bainimarama weddings


Michael Field

It is one thing being dictator and army supremo but it is quite another controlling family weddings and what happens on New Year’s Eve.

Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama has just suffered a mutiny against him and it is personal – his only son and one time army private Meli has eloped with an ex-beauty queen.

The New Year’s Eve wedding, came exactly eight years after big sister Ateca’s wedding was marred when her father’s brother-in-law killed one of the guests.

When Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in December 2006, young Meli was among the dozens of soldiers on the streets. He was on the front line trying to seize deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Whether dad trusted him is open to question; he was given an M16 automatic – but without any bullets or magazines. The commodore’s suspicions about his own soldiers had good grounds; in 2000 they tried to kill him.

In 2011 Meli set up Fijian Solutions Group International – one of the many mercenary companies involved in finding security work for ex- soldiers.

He kept living at home in Suva but six months ago former Miss Idaho Tean USA and now journalist Hosanna Kabakoro, 21, moved into the Bainimarama family home. Her family had originally fled Fiji in the wake of the 2000 Bainimarama coup.

The couple decided to marry on December 21, but a family row blew up and the couple left for Nadi – and a small family-free wedding on New Year’s Eve at a luxury resort.

Fiji media sources say local media have been told not to report any of the drama.

The daily Fiji Times instead devoted its front page to the Boxing Day wedding of a Fiji clan leader, Anare Peni, 71,  to one Merelita Canauvi, 20. Dictator's son

Despite the 51 years between them, the Times reported, there was a lot of feasting and dancing.

On New Year’s Eve in 2006 – just three weeks after staging his coup – Bainimarama gave his daughter Ateca away in marriage. 

At the reception at the Suva Yacht Club a guest, John Whippy, was said to have been drunk and insulting.

Bainimarama’s brother-in-law, navy Commander Francis Kean, beat and punched him, killing him.

Initially charged with murder, it was dropped to manslaughter and Kean kept his rank and full military pay.

He eventually got 18 months jail but served less than a month

He is now head of Public Works and was recently given a civil medal for services by Bainimarama.

Its been a hard year for the dictator; a court trial in November revealed several top officers had planned to kill him at one point.

The coming year might be better: Bainimarama has promised democracy restoring elections and he’s said he is running for office.

5  January 2014

Sunday Star-Times






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