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FIJI: Soldiers seize police station

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SUVA: Three armed Fijians, including the father of a soldier allegedly killed by an Indo-Fijian soldier awaiting courtmartial, today seized suburban Nabua police station in the capital Suva, according to media reports.

Radio Fiji reported that the military negotiated an end to the incident after a two-hour standoff at the police station, one of the largest and best-equipped in the Pacific country.

Radio FM96 said at least six shots had been fired inside the police station. The radio also reported that four armed men were involved.

Reports said one of the armed men was the father of a soldier shot dead in Lebanon earlier this year, Arare Waqavonovono, who was serving with the Fiji Islands contingent in the UNIFIL forces.

An Indo-Fijian soldier implicated in the killing was repatriated from Lebanon a week ago and has been detained in Nabua police station cells awaiting court-martial over the shooting.

The Nabua police station is in the same suburb as the military's Queen Elizabeth Barracks. It is understood that the detained soldier will now be moved there.

The Suva offices of the regional Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) are also nearby and were closed off by military and police officers.

The Fiji Islands has been under martial law since May 29 following the seizure of Parliament by rebel leader George Speight and a group of gunmen 10 days earlier.

The rebels still hold hostage 31 members of the elected Fiji Labour Party-led government of ousted Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

Meanwhile, the Daily Post reported today that a University of the South Pacific academic, Professor Asesela Ravuvu, had been named among Speight's proposed line-up for an interim civilian administration in Fiji.

The newspaper said Prof Ravuvu had been named as proposed Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations.

Former Fiji Journalism Institute training coordinator Jo Nata, who is Speight's current media adviser, has been listed as proposed Minister for Information and Media.

Simione Kaitani, who played a high profile role in criticism of USP's selection process for the next vice-chancellor, is proposed as Education, Science and Technology Minister.

However, only two of Speight's 31 nominees are understood to be agreeable to the military.

They are said to be the Permanent Secretary for Finance and incumbent Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Savenaca Narube, and the chief executive of Merchants Bank and former managing director of the Fiji Development Bank, Laisenia Qarase.

They are currently serving on the interim military council.

New Zealand unions have imposed a ban on Fiji from tomorrow, disrupting cargo to and from Fiji. This follows the earlier ban by Australian unions.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Ross Williams was quoted on Fiji Television as saying that the council decided to impose the ban after former president Ken Douglas reported back from a fact-finding visit to Fiji that this was what local unions wanted.

New Zealand exports goods worth $NZ227 million a year to Fiji and imports Fijian goods worth $66 million a year.

Pacific Chamber of Commerce president Joe Singh, who appeared on a Close-Up television programme on the crisis and the economy last night, said the ban would also have a major impact on other Pacific countries because Fiji was the main entry port for island nations.

+++niuswire

This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html

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