8 Dec 2006

Laisenia Qarase says he is considering alternative employment

1:09 pm on 8 December 2006

The Fiji prime minister deposed in the military coup this week says he is considering alternative employment options or even permanent retirement.

Laisenia Qarase, who is now in his home village in the Lau Group, has told Radio Legend that he needs to decide on the next step for a brighter future for him and his family.

Mr Qarase, who is 67, says he is fortunate there are options available to him including being on the boards of companies and will do some serious thinking when he returns to the mainland.

He says all civil servants should continue with their work as they are there to provide government services to the people.

The ousted prime minister says someone will definitely take this week's armed takeover to court as the 1997 Constitution is still in place.

Meanwhile, a former Fiji government minister says Laisenia Qarase should have resigned at the start of present crisis.

Adi Finau Tabakaucoro, who is a Bau high chief, has told the Fiji Times the way discussions were going somebody had to give in and she felt the prime minister was in a position to do that.

Adi Finau says the challenge for citizens now is to turn the situation around and make it work for them.

Adi Finau has urged people not to oppose or resist the takeover because it was going to happen given how problems from the coups were handled.

And, a cabinet minister in Fiji's deposed government says Mr Qarase will never return to power.

Poseci Bune of the Fiji Labour Party has told Fiji TV Mr Qarase should accept the military's intervention, step back and allow the country to move forward.

The leader of the Fiji Labour party, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he is willing to help the military to quickly restore democratic rule in the country.

Mr Chaudhry, who was deposed as Fiji's Prime Minister in the 2000 coup, says while he will not accept any illegal moves following this latest military coup but a better future can be negotiated for the people of Fiji.

"In terms of restoration of democratic rule we as a political party are willing to assist in that process, and I have also appealed to the head of the diplomatic missions here that they should also use their good officers to bring about a settlement on this issue to engage with the military as well as the government ."

Mr Chaudhry says corruption is rife within the country, and the Qarase government was seen to be condoning that.

Meanwhile, the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has begun advertising key ministerial posts in the interim government

Walter Zweifel reports from Suva that the man he appointed to replace the elected prime minister will take over the Prime Minister's official office today.

Dr Jona Senilagakali will start his second day on the job on the fourth floor of Government Buildings in central Suva. Yesterday, he worked out of the military barracks assisted by a military council. Applicants are sough for ministerial positions, while top public servants are being sacked. The supervisor of elections, Semesa Karavaki, is the latest victim of the military's so-called clean-up campaign launched on Tuesday. The process is unfolding under a state of emergency with the military keeping elected politicians at bay and warning the public not to resist.

Commodore Bainimarama announced Mr Karavaki's sacking yesterday.

We are in the process of appointing a new Supervisor of elections whose important job is to ensure that the electoral system is proper and functioning well, so that when the country is ready for elections, the machinery is running well and ready to take on this very important task. What we don't want is the repeat of the situation and circumstances in which the last general election was carried out.

The Commodore gave no indication when elections would be held.

Fiji government ministerial chief executives have agreed to carry on in their roles and will meet the military commander and his new prime minister on Monday for discussions.

The chief executive of the public service commission, Anare Jale, has told Fiji TV they have not made a stand on the legality of the situation but considered the reality on the ground.

Mr Jale says there has to be some sort of compromise because their role is to serve the people and they don't want that to be curtailed.

He says they will discuss the sackings of some chief executives during the meeting on Monday.

Meanwhile deposed prime minister's chief executive, Jioji Kotobalavu, says he is going on leave because the new prime minister has the right to have a chief executive he has full confidence in.

The sacked chairman of Fiji's public service commission and also the constitutional services commission, Stuart Huggett, has left the country for Australia.

Mr Huggett's departure came as the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, announced the appointment of a team to investigate the corrupt practices of the previous Qarase government.

Commodore Bainimarama said this would include an investigation of Mr Huggett's company, Architects Pacific, which has applied to build a new 24-million US dollar prison complex outside Suva.

He said Mr Huggett had breached the public service code of conduct and should have either withdrawn from the bidding process for the new prisons complex or resigned from chair of the two key public service bodies.

As Mr Huggett was leaving Fiji, he told the Fijilive news website that he was "not running away."