28 Nov 2006

Fiji police will not make any attempt to arrest army Commander

11:13 am on 28 November 2006

The Fiji police will not make any attempt to arrest the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, either in New Zealand or on his return to the country later today.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, is denying local media reports that he asked Interpol to arrest the commander although he says it is true that two police officers flew to New Zealand in an attempt to talk to him.

Mr Hughes also says he's received a threat from elements of the military so his family has been repatriated to Australia and he is presently moving between locations.

The police commissioner says a sense of alarm was created yesterday when armed soldiers were seen in Suva's central business district despite the army stating that it was usual exercises.

Mr Hughes says the police cannot confront the military.

"The action we take will be through negotiation. We're not in any position to confront the military under the present leadership. It's aggressive, it's resistant to any approaches from civil authority, it sees itself as being somehow above the law, above process and as I said, above all civil authority so it's a very, very difficult situation we find ourselves in but we're holding the line."

The police commissioner says the commander should take up the prime minister's offer to sit down and talk through the situation.

The Foreign Ministers of the Forum Island countries are to meet in Sydney on Friday to briefed on the crisis in Fiji.