Queen Won't See Ex-Fiji Premier Seeking Her Help, London Says

Associated Press

Fiji's deposed prime minister, Timoci Bavadra, arrived in London on Sunday seeking help from Queen Elizabeth II, the former colony's ceremonial head of state, but Buckingham Palace said the queen would not see him.

"She is my queen, she is the queen of Fiji, so she at least has to listen to me," Bavadra said at Heathrow Airport upon arrival from Fiji by way of Australia.

No British officials were at the airport and Bavadra was not given VIP treatment.

Bavadra's elected administration was overthrown May 14 in a military coup led by Lt. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka, the first such coup in South Pacific history.

A palace spokesman said the queen was advised by Fiji's governor general, Penaia Ganilau, not to see Bavadra. Ganilau represents the queen in the Commonwealth island nation, which gained independence in 1970.

The spokesman said Bavadra would be given an interview with the queen's private secretary, William Heseltine.

Advice of Governor General

When asked about Bavadra's chances of meeting the queen, the spokesman said, "I think not."

"On this matter, the queen has taken advice from the governor general of Fiji and will not see him (Bavadra)," he added.

Of Bavadra's plea that the monarch is his queen, the spokesman said, "She is not; her advice comes from the governor general."

As a constitutional monarch, the queen is not permitted any political role and deals with her representative, the governor general, rather than with a nation's government leader.

Bavadra and the Cabinet he chose, dominated by ethnic Indians, were overthrown a month after taking office. Rabuka said he seized control to restore power to indigenous Fijians, who make up 47% of Fiji's 715,000 population. Indians, whose ancestors went as indentured laborers to Fiji in the 19th Century, make up 49% of the population.

Rabuka is an indigenous Fijian, as is Bavadra.

The governor general later established an advisory council, controlled by coup leader Rabuka and the army, to run the country pending elections. Bavadra refused to serve on the council.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
63°