Fiji coup deadline passes

Military commander says he has the 'green light' to remove the government.

    Prime Minister Qarase has urged Fijians to
    'stand up' against military threats

    After the military's deadline had passed, the same radio station quoted Bainimarama as saying that as the government had not agreed to his demands he would decide when to move in.
     
    The military leader has demanded the government abandon several contentious bills, call police off a sedition investigation into senior military officers, and take action on a range of other demands.
     
    Dispute
     
    Bainimarama's key demands

    And end of investigations into his activities and other army officers.

    Removal of Andrew Hughes, Fiji's police commissioner, an Australian.

    Dropping of sedition charges against him.

    Dropping of land rights bills 

    No foreign intervention in the country.

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    At the heart of the dispute is proposed legislation to grant pardons to plotters of a 2000 coup.
     
    Bainimarama is also demanding that the government drop two land rights bills that he says would unfairly favour Fiji's indigenous majority over the large ethnic Indian minority.
     
    The military has called up reservists as fears mount that a coup is imminent.
     
    On Thursday Qarase said he was prepared to offer certain concessions to the military, but that offer was swiftly rejected by Bainimarama as not going far enough.

    Later, Qarase told Australia’s ABC radio was not afraid of Bainimarama's threats and that talks with "very prominent people'' were under way that could bring the crisis to a peaceful end.
     
    "There is a big split in the army ... it could well be a factor,'' he said.
     
    In Canberra, Mark Vaile, Australia's acting prime minister, said he would "consider very seriously'' any request from the Fiji government to send troops to try to prevent a coup.
     
    Outside powers warned
     

    The Fijian military has called up reservists as
    fears mount that a coup is imminent

    Australia currently has three naval ships stationed near Fiji, although Bainimarama has repeatedly warned outside powers against intervening in Fiji's internal affairs.
     
    Meanwhile, the US has expressed its concern at military threats to overthrow Fiji's democratically elected government, warning that aid to the country could be cut if a coup occurs.
     
    The Fijian capital, Suva, was reported to be largely calm on Friday, but many offices were closed. An annual sports day between the military and armed forces went ahead as usual at the national stadium.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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