22 Feb 2007

Former Fiji PM accuses army of threatening him with physical harm

10:26 am on 22 February 2007

Fiji's deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is alleging that the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, threatened him with physical harm on the day of the December 5 coup.

Fiji TV reports that Mr Qarase makes the allegation in an affidavit filed with the Suva High Court challenging the overthrow of his government.

He says the threat of physical harm was made in a telephoned message to his security detail on the evening of the coup.

Mr Qarase alleges that the threat compelled him to flee the mainland for his home island of Vanuabalavu.

As well, Mr Qarase alleges that members of his multi-party government were also threatened with physical harm.

He alleges that they were picked up by the military, and intimidated and humiliated by senior army officers while surrounded by armed soldiers.

Mr Qarase has made a total of 92 declarations in his affidavit.

Among them, he also claims that he called for an early general election last year to let the people be the judge of the military's criticisms of his government and decide through democratic processes whether they were suitable leaders for the country.