4 Aug 2004

Fiji MP says the prime minister had advance knowledge of the 2000 coup

8:45 am on 4 August 2004

A senior Fiji Labour Party MP and deposed cabinet minister has called for the resignation of the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, for having prior knowledge of the coup.

Radio Fiji reports that amid uproar in parliament, Poseci Bune also accused Mr Qarase of attempting unconstitutional acts, including asking the military commander to remove President Iloilo from office in 2000.

Mr Bune said he wanted to know how the prime minister knew of the coup on May 19th, 2000, who told him of the change in government on that day and why he had not "informed the police about what he had learnt."

"So much for his professed adherence to the rule of law. Second aspect Mr Speaker Sir. The prime minister in June 2000 when the then new peident, Ratu Josefa Iloilo. indicated his other option to appoint Adi Samanunu Cakobau as interim prime minister, Mr Qarase had strongly disagreed. At the meeting held at the offices of Fijian holdings, the prime minister had asked Commander Bainimarama to remove His Exellency the President. The prime minister cannot deny this. There were participants at this meeting from the military side and from the prime minister's side - like Senator Apisai Tora, for example, who can witness to the truthfulness of what I have said."

Mr Bune said the way is open for Mr Qarase to hand in his resignation so that another member of the House who has the support of the majority can be appointed as the new prime minister.