5 Dec 2006

Reports from Fiji that the president has dissolved parliament

2:48 pm on 5 December 2006

Fiji's president has told the the country's military commander that he can remove Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's government.

Local media is reporting that the president Ratu Josefa Iloilo has signed an order dissolving Parliament.

Earlier armed soldiers in Fiji entered the grounds of the Prime Minister's residence in Suva, where Laisenia Qarase meeting several cabinet ministers.

Radio New Zealand International's Walter Zweifel is there:

"The army that took hold of the area around the prime minister's residence has left. About 30 soldiers arrived about an hour and push all the media and onlookers away so it was not possible to see what happened. But the prime minister and several of his ministers are still in there. The website FijiLive is reporting that the parliament has been dissolved by the president quoting the Doctrine of Necessity and a short while ago the prime minister was live on the radio saying that he cannot confirm this. He says if this has happened any government that is formed subsequently will be illegal. He says he is still the prime minister and he won't resign. The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainmarama has called a news conference for tonight."

A senior Fiji lawyer, and head of the local branch of Transparency International, Richard Naidu, says the military commander will avoid acting against the constitution if Mr Qarase steps down.

He says only the prime minister or the president have any role in dissolving government:

The conmmander himself dosen't have a constiutional role, he can only force the hand of the Prime Minister or the President. If he was to force the President or attempt to get the President to move of his own motion; that would be unlawful. If the President was to move of his own motion that would almost certainly be unlawful.

A senior Fiji lawyer, and the director of Transparency International Fiji , Richard Naidu