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Military issues ultimatum to Speight

Military issues ultimatum to Speight

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By Joe Yaya

SUVA: Fiji military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama today issued an ultimatum to rebel leader George Speight and his supporters to release the hostages and lay down their arms.

In return, they would receive an amnesty from the military council, which is now the executive authority in the nation under martial law.

This follows the latest round of talks between Speight and the military ending in a deadlock.

Speight's group are demanding that they be included in the interim civilian government, apart from the amnesty offered to them.

Commodore Bainimarama said in a national address this afternoon that the military would not entertain any more demands made by Speight.

He said that the mandate of the military was to restore normalcy to the lives of the people in Fiji.

He also pointed out that Speight and his men could not be included in the interim civilian government because of the local and international backlash Fiji would receive if this was allowed.

The main points of Commodore Bainimarama's speech:

* "I would like to state that there has been a deadlock in talks between the RFMF and George Speight and his men."

* "The military council and the RFMF is firm on it's stand in the resolutions that we have passed to Speight and his men to release the hostages and return all arms and ammunition. In return, we will grant them amnesty."

* "Our mandate is to bring back normalcy to our lives, and as such, we will not entertain any more demands by George Speight and his men."

* "We would like them to leave, have the hostages released, return their arms so we can bring back some normalcy into our lives."

* "We have stated to Speight and his men that they cannot be included in the interim government for the reason that we will receive backlash from both the local and overseas communities."

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