1 Nov 2006

Fiji PM rules out resignation in face of military pressure

6:51 pm on 1 November 2006

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has stressed that there is no question of him resigning, or his government stepping down, in the face of threats by the military.

In a national broadcast on radio and television, Mr Qarase said they have the constitutional authority and the support of the people to rule now and for the next five years.

He said the government he leads was constitutionally elected in May this year.

And he was constitutionally appointed prime minister by the president acting in his own deliberate judgment.

Mr Qarase said after an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and the multi-party cabinet, he had asked the minister for Fijian affairs to convene a meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs next week.

Mr Qarase said it is crucial to seek the advice of the Great Council of Chiefs because the legislation which Commodore Frank Bainimarama is opposing was undertaken with the specific authorisation of the Great Council.

He said the Great Council of Chiefs is a repository of chiefly wisdom and authority and there is a role for it in resolving the current crisis.

Mr Qarase said in the coup years of 1987 and 2000, the Great Council of Chiefs demonstrated its ability to deal with the fundamental issues of peace and stability and he was sure it could do so again.

Mr Qarase said he was also assuring President Iloilo and the nation that he was ready to engage in further dialogue with Commodore Bainimarama with an open mind on issues of concern to the military.