Tevita Mara

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Ratu Tevita Kapaiwai Lutunauga Uluilakeba Mara is a Fijian career soldier, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as of early 2006. On 3 February, he was named Army Chief of Staff, succeeding Colonel Meli Saubulinayau, a close relative of his. This position is the fourth highest in the Fijian Military, behind that of the Military Commander (Commodore Frank Bainimarama), Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff RFMF (Captain Esala Teleni) and the Land Force Commander (Lieutenant Colonel Pita Driti). Mara held the position for several months, before he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Third Infantry Regiment, a key position in the Fiji Army as he controls the infantry division, that has about 500 gun-carrying soldiers.[1] He attended his staff course at Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College, Haigate,Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2005 (Class 34/2005).

In May 2011 he was charged with mutiny and accused of attempting to overthrow Bainimarima's government. He fled Fiji on 9 May 2011[2] with the aid of the Royal Tongan Navy, and has been declared a fugitive by the Fijian government under the Extradition Act.[3] Mara released a video on 14 May criticising Bainimarima and the Fijian Attorney-General, Aiyaz Khayum.[4] He subsequently met with officials in Australia and New Zealand.[5][6]

Mara is one of two surviving sons of the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Fiji's longtime Prime Minister and President.[7] He first joined the Army in 1988. His older brother, Ratu Finau Mara, has also served in the Army. His older sister, Adi Koila Nailatikau is married to the military-appointed President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Mara currently serves as an advisor to the King of Tonga where he enjoys the privileges of a noble on the Pacific island kingdom.[citation needed]

He is married to Dolores Thaggard, a pharmacist.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Firth, Stewart; Fraenkel, Jon (2009). The 2006 military takeover in Fiji: the coup to end all coups?. ANU E Press. p. 128. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Fiji wants answers on Mara "extraction" to Tonga". radiofiji.com.fj. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Former Fiji army chief hits out at 'hateful dictatorship'". The New Zealand Herald. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Field, Michael (16 May 2011). "Fijian strongman demands rebellious colonel's return". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Exiled Fijian army chief meets with officials | Stuff.co.nz". stuff.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Tevita Mara seeks exemption from NZ sanctions ban | Stuff.co.nz". stuff.co.nz. 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Rory Callinan (27 November 2006). "Fiji's Troubles". TIME. Retrieved 27 December 2010.