15 Dec 2006

Fijian academic says country's future could be decided at Chiefs' meeting

10:09 am on 15 December 2006

A senior indigenous Fijian academic says next week's meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs could well decide if the country returns to democracy or remains under a military regime.

Dr Steven Ratuva has told Fiji TV it all depends on whether the GCC accepts or declines the authority of the military.

Dr Ratuva says acceptance will mean the likely return to democracy, while a refusal will bring more constitutional complications to the country.

He says the chiefs will have to make a very tough decision on whether they are for or against the military regime.

Dr Ratuva says the current military regime has shifted from the first stage of assuming political power and is now moving into consolidating political authority.

He says what comes next is aligning all major public offices according to the military's order.

Meanwhile, the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says it is now becoming more difficult for his government to return to power.

Mr Qarase told Radio Legend this morning it is now up to the military to decide whether it will change its stance and reinstate the SDL government.

He says if the takeover is firmly established, then that is it.

Mr Qarase also says he has forgiven the military commander and others for their actions as life must go on.