9 Nov 2006

Fiji PM tells chiefs he failed to heal rift with military

4:22 pm on 9 November 2006

Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has told today's meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs that he fell short in efforts to improve relations between his government and the military.

According to the Fiji Times, he apologised to the chiefs, who convened to try to solve the impasse between the two institutions, and asked for their understanding.

Mr Qarase says he believes the difference in opinion between the government and the military involves the legal scope of the army's role in the nation.

He says the government believed the army's role under the 1997 constitution was limited to being an institution of the state, while the army believes it has a wide mandate to ensure the wellbeing of Fiji and its people, as well as national security.

The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama did not attend the meeting.

Also absent was President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.