19 Dec 2006

Fiji military threaten to arrest Qarase if he attempts to return to Suva

7:47 am on 19 December 2006

With just a day to go before Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs meets to discuss the current crisis, the military is determined that the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, will not set foot in the capital.

The army spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, says all shipping companies and airlines have been informed not to bring Mr Qarase back to Suva.

Mr Qarase left for his home village of Mavana on Vanuabalavu in the Lau Group two days after the December 5th coup but says he wants to come back to attend the meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs.

But Major Leweni says if Mr Qarase comes back, he will be arrested and put on Nukulau island where the May 2000 coup front man, Gorge Speight, is serving a life sentence.

Mr Qarase says Nukulau and other prisons are for criminals and he has not done anything wrong.

His controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill which prompted the military coup was designed to free Speight and others involved in the May 2000 coup and wipe out their criminal records.