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Coup in Fiji again

December 05, 2006 15:37 IST
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Army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama took over the government and executive authority over Fiji Tuesday, in Fiji's fourth coup in 20 years, report agencies.

He dismissed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, and appointed medical practitioner and former army doctor Dr Jona Senilagikali as caretaker Prime Minister.

Bainimarama has vehemently opposed Qarase's Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill, which aims to grant amnesty to those involved in the May 2000 coup which toppled the government of Mahendra Chaudhry.

Bainimarama said he had stepped into the shoes of the President and "in this capacity under Section 101 (1) of our Constitution as he (the president) is empowered to do so, dismiss the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase."

He said the 1997 Constitution remained intact. "We reiterate that while this cause of action is taken with great reluctance, it is necessary to steer our beloved nation into peace, stability and just solution and to preserve our Constitution. Therefore the constitution will remain in place except those parts as necessitated under the doctrine of necessity," he was quoted as saying.

Bainimarama said the takeover will not be permanent.

"Tomorrow, I will summon the (government) CEOs and charge them with the

duty of running their own ministries until an interim Government is appointed," he said. "During the Great Council of Chiefs meeting next week, I will be requesting the GCC to reappoint the Turaga Tui Vuda (Ratu Josefa Iloilo) as the President. "His Excellency, the president, will then appoint a caretaker government. In the meantime, a Military council will be providing me with advice."

Bainimarama said he had been forced to act because Qarase refused to attend an audience with the president who was trying to resolve the impasse. "This action by the prime minister has indicated to me and the military that the government has no intention of solving this crisis. "

"The RFMF not only believes in the Constitution, but it also believes and adheres to constitutionalism."

"Accordingly subject to the prevailing conditions, all our constitutional offices, the judiciary and other arms of government are to function as they normally would.

"Given the legal, constitutional and indeed defensible basis of this necessary action, all citizens of this country, including now former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, our neighbours and the international community should remain calm, and support and work together for the betterment of our beloved nation and its people," he said.

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