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Army – Your Time Is Running Out Speight

Army – Your Time Is Running Out Speight

SUVA: Tensions are rising after the Fijian army gave coup leader George Speight until 3 pm today to lay down his weapons and surrender his hostages.

The army suspended talks with Mr. Speight yesterday after both sides once again failed to find a way to resolve the hostage situation.

The negotiations broke down when army head Commodore Frank Bainimarama reportedly refused to accept Speight’s call to allow the Great Council of Chiefs to decide on a future government for the country.

Some chiefs in the Great Council support Mr. Speight and his men who would possibly be given positions in the new administration.

Meanwhile, Mr. Speight has threatened to shoot his 31 hostages if the military launches an offence against him.

See below for a full transcript of the article.

Speight threats to shoot hostages unless army talks
Tuesday, June 06, 2000

REBEL leader and Suva businessman George Speight has threatened to shoot the 31 hostages in parliament if the Fiji Military Forces launches a military offensive against them.

But army commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama said yesterday that the military has not even considered this option. At a press conference late yesterday, Mr Speight expressed his disappointment over the army's decision to suspend talks with his group.

He said the decision was a reflection of Commodore Bainimarama's lack of committment to see an end to the country's political crisis. The army chief announced yesterday that he has suspended talks with Mr Speight's group until the hostages were released and all firearms returned to the army camp.

Commodore Bainimarama said, no "constructive dialogue will be held at the point of a gun or under duress because of the hostages". Mr Speight insisted that they will hold the hostages until the army handed the reins of government to the Great Council of Chiefs. "Our next move is we will remain here," Mr Speight said. "I am not in a corner, he (Bainimarama) is in a corner. "I will wait here for as long as I have to." However, he also assured the public that he would ensure the safety of the hostages.

Meanwhile, Commodore Bainimarama said he was concerned with "the wrong impression the public had of his assuming executive authority and the role of the military during the crisis". He said that the military assumed control of the army to "pre-empt any bloodshed" as the FMF was "an unbiased bystander." "What is now being perceived is that it is us against them (George Speight's group)," Commodore Bainimarama said. He said the army wanted stability for the country.

"The militrary contended that the intention of the hostage takers had been fulfilled through the repeal of the 1997 Constitution and the removalof Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as President and offer immunity for the original seven who had carried out the capture of parliament," the statement said.

"If they are not satisfied than perhaps we should ask them about other motives they may have, resulting on the on going crisis." In another statement, Commodore Bainimarama said he was a relunctant head of the military government. "We don't want to lead. "I don't want to lead."

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