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Manning On BBC: Fiji Coup Threats Intensify

Audio & Report: Selwyn Manning On BBC - Fiji Coup Threats Intensify

Scoop Audio.Scoop Audio (click here to listen): Selwyn Manning on BBC Radio reports: How Fiji's military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama has intensified threats to overthrow the Fijian government unless it meets his demands by December 5.

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Scoop
Image: Fiji Military by Selwyn Manning COLLATED REPORT: The Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer has expressed fears that the likelihood of a military coup in Fiji is intensifying.

Downer said yesterday that he had intelligence that suggested Fiji's military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, plans to over-throw the Fijian Government around December 5.

Earlier this week Bainimarama repeated his threat to remove Fiji's Prime Minister Qarase and his Government unless it agreed to his demands.

The military chief's demands include:

  • Dropping an amnesty clause within a reconciliation bill that would see the release of some of those convicted for orchestrating Fiji's coup in 2000
  • Sacking Fiji's Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes (An Australian)
  • And dropping the QoliQoli Bill that would open up Fiji's coast and much of its foreshore to public/indigenous Fijian access and ownership. Many in Fiji fear that bill would destroy Fiji's tourism industry.
  • Fiji's PM has agreed to modify the amnesty clause, and to a meeting with Bainimarama. But the military chief has continued to intensify his threats to overthrow the government.

    As a consequence - Australia has moved three Navy vessels into South-West Pacific waters, ready to evacuate Australians from the Fijian Islands should the Military conduct a coup.

    Soldiers, an evacuation team, medics, helicopters, and land force vehicles are on board.

    The Australian government is seeking a meeting of all Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers to address the crisis. That call is being considered by the Fijian Prime Minister.

    On Thursday, Fiji's Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes executed a search warrant on the Fijian President's office, searching for documents relating to police investigations into Bainimarama.

    The Military has said a "police raid" on the President's office is unacceptable and called for the Police Commissioner to be sacked.

    In turn the Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes said yesterday he was close to laying sedition charges against Bainimarama.

    The charges include: Disobedience and unlawful order Seditious content of public statements Unlawful removal of ammunition form a container secured by Police Investigation into deaths of soldiers allegedly murdered at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks during the November 2000 mutiny.

    It is expected that Fijian Police will attempt to arrest the Military chief once he returns from New Zealand on December 5.

    Hughes has also alluded to 'shadowy figures' including current members of the Fijian Parliament that have been advising Bainimarama to overthrow the government.

    ENDS


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