Fijian coup leader threatens to disrupt Olympics
SUVA, Fiji (AP) -- Coup leader George Speight called Friday for indigenous people throughout the South Pacific to unite, and threatened to join forces with Australia's Aborigines to disrupt the Olympic games in Sydney in September.
It wasn't clear, however, that he could get their support.
Speight announced his crusade amid increasing turmoil in ethnically divided Fiji and prospects that rival governments could emerge.
"I am going to make a call to all ethnic people in the South Pacific to stand up and exert their rights," Speight said.
"It's quite possible we could disrupt the whole Olympic Games with our aboriginal brothers."
Prospects for such a protest seemed remote.
Jenny Munro, head of Sydney's Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council which is planning peaceful protests at the games, said they had not been contacted by Speight.
"There have been no discussions," she said. "I would say it is highly unlikely."
Speight cannot visit Sydney to directly co-ordinate any such protest -- the Australian government has banned him from entering the country -- but he could try to exert his influence from Fiji.
Milton Cockburn, spokesman for the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, and police refused to comment on the threat.
Speight led an armed group into Parliament on May 19 and took dozens of legislators hostage, including the prime minister, in the name of ethnic Fijian rights. He freed his last 18 hostages July 13 as part of a deal that stripped ethnic Indian Fijians of political power. They make up 44 per cent of Fiji's 814,000 people, but dominate the economy.
Australia, New Zealand and the United States subsequently imposed sanctions.
Speight, who says he no longer wants to be called a rebel leader but a "crusader for Fijian rights," remains adamant that Fiji will not return to democracy even in the face of becoming a pariah state and an economic disaster area.