NZ PM Calls For Fiji's Military Boss To Stand Aside
By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor
ALSO, Scoop Audio (click here to listen):
Selwyn Manning on the BBC: Reports how Fiji's government has lost control of its military after its PM Qarase ordered
the country's military chief to be sacked. In turn Fiji's Army chief has ordered Qarase's government to resign or be
forced from office.
Scoop News: New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has called on Fiji's military commander to "step aside" after the island
nation's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase failed yesterday to have him removed.
Helen Clark has said Fiji's government was legitimately elected and had followed a process to stand down Royal Fiji
Military Force's commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
Through a spokesperson, Helen Clark told Scoop that Bainimarama - who is currently in Iraq visiting Fijian soldiers –
should accept calls for his suspension and stand aside.
Prior to the Pacific Islands Forum, the Fiji government had been embarrassed after Bainimarama (on October 16) issued an
ultimatum: that Fiji's Prime Minister Qarase had until November 6 to back off two controversial bills (an indigenous
coastal rights bill and a reconciliation bill) or face being run out of office by the Fijian Army.
Yesterday, Qarase met with Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, seeking a presidential order demanding Bainimarama
stand down as head of the Military. The order was issued and Qarase urged that Bainimarama be replaced by Lt Colonel
The news organisation FijiLive reported that Qarase had demanded that if Bainimarama did not stand down then he and his
government would resign office. However, the bluff backfired after senior military chiefs yesterday refused to carry out
the order and demonstrated total support for their commander Bainimarama.
Bainimarama then countered the government's order stating that Qarase's government must resign gracefully. If it did
not, he said it would be overthrown. Australia has issued a travel warning advising caution for those traveling in Fiji.
It has also committed a navy vessel to travel to Fiji to assist Australians who may require assistance should the nation
descend into civil disorder.
A spokesperson for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Scoop that it is monitoring the situation closely, and
will reassess its travel advisory to Fiji should that become necessary.
ALSO: Scoop Feature -
Feature: Why Fiji's Military Believes It Ought To Threaten Its Govt - Scoop's Selwyn Manning writes
that last week, while covering the Forum in Nadi, Fiji, Scoop sought the views of Fijians as to why their military was
threatening to over-throw the Fijian government. Should the demands of Fiji's military commander be taken seriously? All
said most definitely. What's more, all said Bainimarama had their support. Why is this so? See... Scoop Feature: Fiji An Icon Of Pacific Instability
AND:Scoop Report - Fiji PM Fails To Oust Military Chief
Selwyn Manning and Radio Adelaide's Peter Godfrey discuss: How Fiji's government appears to have lost control of its
military after its PM Qarase ordered the military chief to be sacked.