5 Dec 2006

Fiji military leader makes himself president

7:40 pm on 5 December 2006

The Fiji military commander Commodore Frank Bainmarama has announced he has taken over the government.

The move comes after the president Ratu Josefa Iloilo had called for him to find a legal solution to the crisis and the refusal of prime minister Laisenia Qarase to resign.

As Walter Zweifel reports from Suva the commander tonight told journalists that he was appointing himself president, in an acting capacity.

"He says that he's tried to negotiate with the government in good faith on the concerns that he's had and he's decided that it didn't go forward. Hence he's decided to step in and become the new President in an acting position. He's invoked the doctrine of necessity and he says there's a provision in the constitution that if there are unusual circumstances then he can step in. And he's quoted also the case of Whitlam in Australia in the 1970s - he's decided to nominate as the acting Prime Minister Dr Jona Senilagakali. He says there will be no interuption to any of the government programmes. He will convene the meeting with the CEOs to see a way forward. He's also decided to give all the government ministers that he's deposed through his action today one month to vacate the premises, and they'll get one month severance pay."