30 Nov 2006

Fiji PM outlines deal with military chief

6:24 pm on 30 November 2006

Fiji's prime minister has agreed to a series of compromises with the military in talks with Commodore Frank Bainimarama in Wellington to solve the country's current impasse.

In a national broadcast this afternoon, Mr Qarase said he had agreed with the military that the coup and army mutiny in the year 2000 were illegal and both sides had agreed to a public awareness programme to educate the people about this.

Mr Qarase also told Commodore Bainimarama that the military should provide the names of people he believes should be investigated in relation to those events to the police.

Mr Qarase said the government agreed to suspend further action on the three controversial Bills at the centre of the dispute pending a detailed legal examination of the legislation to determine their constitutionality.

Mr Qarase said if the re-examination finds that the final drafts of the Bills are inconsistent with the constitution, the government will not hesitate to withdraw them.

New Zealand has offered to provide expert help in this legal initiative.

Mr Qarase said they discussed police investigations into the commander and his officers.

He said while the government cannot interfere with the functions of the police and the director of public prosecutions, the government will readily accept advice from the two institutions on the position to be finally taken.

Mr Qarase said if the police and the DPP decide not to proceed further in the greater interest of peace and stability in Fiji, the government would agree with this.

On the military's demand for the removal of the Australian police commissioner, Mr Qarase said Andrew Hughes' current contract is nearing its end and the concerns of the military will be taken into account in reviewing his position.

In the meantime, Mr Hughes has gone on indefinite leave.

Mr Qarase said the government will ask the police to conduct a review of the Police Tactical Response Unit set up by Mr Hughes.

The prime minister also said the sole purpose of the Pacific Forum foreign ministers' meeting in Sydney tomorrow is to allow the government to brief them on the situation in Fiji because of its regional and international implications.

Mr Qarase said Fiji will only be seeking a declaration of support for the dialogue process between him the Commodore Bainimarama.

He stressed that Fiji will not be asking for any form of military intervention.

Mr Qarase said he has written to Commodore Bainimarama seeking another meeting as soon as possible with the New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, continuing as moderator