22 Dec 2006

New tensions between Fiji military and Great Council of Chiefs

11:15 am on 22 December 2006

A confrontation is looming between Fiji's military which seized power this month and the Great Council of Chiefs which is trying to discuss a resolution to the crisis.

The Fiji Sun reports that the military issued a statement last night saying it no longer recognizes the Great Council of Chiefs.

The newspaper says this followed an open challenge to military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, when the Chiefs announced that they still recognized Laisenia Qarase, as the lawful prime minister.

The Chiefs also recognized Ratu Josefa Iloilo as the president and Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as the vice president, even though both men were deposed in the December 5th coup.

The army repeated that it would not meet the Great Council which had requested that Commodore Bainimarama attend the final day of their meeting today in his capacity as the military commander, not as the president who held executive authority since the coup.

The crux of the issue is a proposal recommending immunity for the military in return for handing over power to the ousted president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

However the military issued a statement last night saying it no longer recognises the GCC.

Matai Akuola of Radio Fiji says it's expected that the GCC will deliver a resolution that is within the rule of law.

"It'll all be revealed today because they had various resolutions coming from the provinces and it was tabled yesterday afternoon, so they'll finalise all those details and deliver their communique to the military today and even the press."