Sitiveni Rabuka has taken out a full page newspaper advertisement to apologise for "the wrong" he committed in 1987 by leading Fiji's first two military coups.
Major General Rabuka has apologised before but fears not everyone affected would have heard of his regret.
Speaker:Sitiveni Rabuka, leader, Fiji's 1987 coups
RABUKA: Before I was verbal over the radio etc. and read the news items, this time it is a paid advertisement on my part and I believe my part in helping in our journey towards reconciliation and reconstruction towards the government proposed general elections of 2014.
ABBOTT: So this is part of that process? You're clearing the books so that Fiji can move forward?
RABUKA: Yes I believe so.
ABBOTT: In this apology you take out a full page advertisement in one of the newspapers in Fiji, you apologise to Fiji as a whole, but specifically to people you call "innocents who suffered anguish, torment and hurt as a result of my actions". Do you feel guilt?
RABUKA: No I just feel that I need to tell them that I feel remorse for the tough things they went through.
ABBOTT: Specifically do you know of examples of where people suffered?
RABUKA: Well there are people who resigned or just went without resigning from the civil service because they were worried about their future. They thought it was the ultra nationalistic fervour that was going through the land at the time, and misread the initial assessment. Well there were self-assessments on their part, but as was proven by those that stayed and remained committed to their civil service staff and ... they progressed well. But I cannot blame anybody who was apprehensive at the time.
ABBOTT: Your apology has been extended to Queen Elizabeth in London, to many of Fiji's former political and military leaders, and to the political parties at the time. Why so widely have you made this apology?
RABUKA: That's in case some of them missed out in the addresses that I've made leading up to the finalisation of the redrafting of our constitution in 1997, and also in the lead-up to the 1999 general elections. From the results of the 1999 general elections I could gauge that many had not forgiven me and they just wanted me out of the political field altogether.
ABBOTT: Do you think there is a lesson in what you're doing for Commodore Frank Bainimarama? Do you feel that people feel that he may be should not have taken over the country?
RABUKA: If that is an option on his part it's not my intention, my intention is to unilaterally to feel remorseful about my own actions and I apologise to the people ... How people draw parallels with my actions and other people's actions, that is their prerogative. I have no intention of drawing those parallels and ...
ABBOTT: The announcement over the weekend in his new year's day address by Commodore Bainimarama that he was lifting Emergency Regulations to allow consultation process on a new constitution. Do you believe that's the right way forward for Fiji now?
RABUKA: I believe it is a very positive step in the move forward, and people should be responsible about it, and both the government and the people who are going to be making pronouncements knowing that we still have a very fragile situation in Fiji and it's still ... and we could easily slip back into Public Emergency Regulations ... the situation. And I'm hoping that people will be responsible about the use of their freedom, both sides of government will act responsibly when people criticise some of the things they do, and there should be give and take on both sides.
ABBOTT: Will you be taking any part in those consultations? Do you see any role for yourself?
RABUKA: I have not been invited and the last time I participated was when the political party leaders were called up to be part of the formulation of the charter, which the government had been promoting around the country.
ABBOTT: But do you see a role for yourself in these consultations that are due to begin next month in February?
RABUKA: Whether I have a role or not depends on how the government and those who are going to be making the decisions and those who participate in this national dialogue and national consultation for the move forward. I don't want to tell you whether I can play a role or not, that's up to them, if they think I can, I can. If they believe I should be left out, then I'll accept that.