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Death Threats To Fijian PM

New Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase says he has already received death threats since being named head of country’s interim administration yesterday evening.

Mr. Qarase has also pleaded with Fijian leader George Speight to release the 27 hostages he is still holding in the Parliament grounds.

Following is a transcript of the report from internet news-site www.fijilive.com.

New PM gets death threats

Newly appointed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase says he has received threats to his life from unknown people after his name was announced for the top post yesterday. However, Qarase says he has placed his trust in the military and will risk his life to serve the country.

Making his first public statement a short while ago, Qarase echoed a statement made yesterday by Head of State, Commodore Frank Bainimarama. While acknowledging the hostage situation, Qarase reiterated that the country has to move forward to avoid more hardships. About 5000 people have already lost their jobs and many more have had their pays slashed.

"We cannot allow the crisis to continue otherwise the economy will be ruined and people will suffer further. If we control the crisis now we can move quickly and recover. The worst outcome can be avoided if we move now," he said

Qarase also acknowledged that neither he nor his Cabinet have the mandate of the people to govern and added they accepted the positions because they saw it "as a call of national duty". The PM said that like the rest of the country, he has been disturbed by the events of May 19th.

"It will be hard to forget and forgive (their actions). But we cannot allow the irresponsible action of a few to put the country and the economy back. Everyone must help with the reconstruction."

Qarase also blasted the trade unions for calling international trade bans, saying their actions resulted in more people losing jobs. Later on in his statement, he acknowledged the efforts of the unions in negotiating the lifting of the trade bans.

Again echoing Bainimarama’s earlier statements, Qarase said the release of all hostages, surrender of all firearms and national security will be the foremost priority of his administration. They will also draw up the terms of reference for a new Constitution.

Commenting on the proposed Constitution, Qarase said it will take the wishes and aspiration of the Fijians into account but it won’t totally leave out other ethnic groups. "No Constitution anywhere in the world is perfect," he said. "We need a Constitution that will address the needs of Fijians and also include the framework of living together as one society."

The PM said Indians, who make up 44 per cent of the population, won’t be left out in the cold when the new Constitution is drawn up. "We all belong here. This is our country and we have all contributed to its development. No one will be defranchised."

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