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Rebels Reject Military Ultimatum

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SUVA: Fiji Islands rebels holding the 27 remaining hostages in Parliament last night rejected the military's 24-hour ultimatum, the Daily Post reported today.

Rebel leader George Speight's adviser Ratu Timoci Silatolu said they would not sign the Muanikau Accord.

Instead, Speight's group will try to find an amicable solution, said Ratu Timoci.

"The army can go ahead with its ultimatum, but it will not get them anywhere near a solution," he said. Speight did not attend the talks yesterday.

Ratu Timoci said they would draw up a fourth set of demands and send them to the army today.

The military said that if the rebels failed to take up the offer it would go ahead and name a civilian government to run the country for the next two years, leading to a general election.

Last night the military began contacting those who will be involved in the running of the interim administration and discussions on the final make-up will continue today.

But military spokesperson Lietenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini said they were not getting tough with the rebels.

"The country cannot wait indefinitely for them to continue their delaying tactics while they try to squeeze every ounce of concessions from us," he said.

A group of indigenous Fijian youths have called for a "freedom march" for next Saturday.

According to a spokesman for the march committee, Sakaraia Tamani, the march would be a show of protest against the actions of Speight and his rebels.

Tamani said the group was not happy with the political crisis which had affected many Fijian youths who have been laid off from their jobs.

They are calling for the support of indigenous Fijian and Rotuman youths to join the march.

"This march will be a culmination of meetings to be organised all around Viti Levu where we hope to coordinate an assembly of about 10,000 Fijian and Rotuman youths," Tamani said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand trade unions have discontinued economic sanctions imposed on Fiji a week ago, reported the Fiji Times.

A special meeting of the NZ Council of Trade Unions on Monday night agreed to ease economic pressure on the military regime after reviewing political developments.

Council president Ross Wilson said unions noted that while the military had reached an agreement with Speight, the pact had been dishonoured by the rebels.

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