16 Mar 2007

Fiji's deposed PM says civilian uprising possible

2:36 pm on 16 March 2007

Fiji's exiled Prime Minister believes a civilian uprising against the military-backed government's not out of the question, despite the military's cache of weapons.

Laisenia Qarase made the comment in the wake of the president's decision this week to extend the state of emergency in the country.

The military claimed security concerns were behind the extension, which restricts a number of rights and freedoms granted in the 1997 constitution.

Mr Qarase has said there's a split in the military which could lead to a mutiny in its ranks.

And he says the largely unarmed public could also retaliate.

"The public are really very very concerned about the continuing abuse of human rights and it could well trigger the violence, if it is not started within the camp itself. The military's a small force, the arms are not that huge, some people just might say enough is enough, lets do something."

Under the emergency regulations, Mr Qarase must remain under house arrest in Vanuabalavu in Lau.