SUVA, FIJI, OCT. 1 (THURSDAY) -- Fiji coup leader Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka today formally revoked the South Pacific island nation's constitution and declared himself head of state.
Rabuka told a news conference that he had replaced Queen Elizabeth as Fiji's head of state because he was not satisfied that a proposed meeting with civilian leaders would meet the aims of his coup. Rabuka made the announcement within 24 hours of agreeing to put on hold his plans to abolish the constitution and declare Fiji a republic.
His statement on Thursday reversed an earlier decision to meet Governor-general Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, deposed prime minister Timoci Bavadra and veteran politician Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara to find a solution to the five-month old crisis.
Rabuka, who said his latest action had been taken to ensure the birthrights of ethnic Fijians, did not declare a republic, but made clear that this was the likely future course. Rabuka has said he staged last Friday's coup, the second in 19 weeks, to change the political framework to guarantee ethnic Fijians political supremacy over Indians who slightly outnumber them.
"I am not a racist," Rabuka said. "What I have done is not antagonistic against the Indian people. It is merely to ensure the birthright of the Fijian people."
Rabuka toppled Bavadra, an ethnic Indian leader, only weeks after Bavadra won national elections in April.