Fiji coup 'illegal' admits new PM
Takeover was illegal but necessary to remove corrupt government, says new PM.
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2006 07:07 GMT
Fiji's new PM says the military will decide
when to go ahead with new elections

Fiji’s new military-installed prime minister has conceded that Tuesday’s coup was illegal but said it was necessary to remove a corrupt government.

Jona Baravilala Senilagakali, who was installed after the takeover, also said elections to restore democratic rule in Fiji could be as much as two years away.

He said the military would determine the timing of the vote.
"It will totally be up to the military president and the military advisers to return Fiji back to normalcy," Senilagakali told Reuters.

"That could be tomorrow, that could be next week, it could be in the next two years or more."


Meanwhile Fiji’s influential council of tribal chiefs has refused to recognise the country’s new military regime.

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"We respect your opinion, but do not interfere with the process that is currently under way"

Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Fijian military chief

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Following the bloodless coup, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the Fijian military chief, said he had assumed the powers of the presidency.

However, on Thursday Ratu Ovini Bokini, the head of the politically-powerful Council of Chiefs, said the former president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, remained the country’s head of state.

His comments came after Bainimarama ordered his troops to remove the country’s vice president from his office and official residence, a move Bokini said was "illegal, unconstitutional and most disrespectful".

Earlier on Wednesday armed troops had forcibly ejected Fijian senators from the parliament building in the capital, Suva.


The senators had been in the midst of budgetary deliberations, apparently in defiance of Bainimarama’s announcement on Tuesday that he had ousted the elected government.

Bainimarama has warned against efforts to resist the military takeover and declared a state emergency because, he said, intelligence indicated some people were planning civil disruption.

"For those who do not agree with what we are doing, we respect your opinion, but do not interfere with the process that is currently under way.

"There is no point in debating the legality or otherwise of our actions. Qarase and his cronies are not coming back," he said, referring to the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

He said the military wanted a peaceful transition to an interim administration and eventually elections that would restore democracy.

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