13 Mar 2008

Fiji interim govt lawyers claim Qarase insisted on military intervention

10:22 am on 13 March 2008

Fiji's Deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase says he had inquired with Australia and New Zealand on possible military assistance and not military intervention.

The Defence in the Fiji High Court case challenging the legality of the 2006 Coup have claimed that the ousted Prime Minister sought military intervention by Australia and New Zealand.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama said that Mr Qarase's request for military intervention was one of the justifications for his move to overthrow the Fiji government in 2006.

Our correspondent, Matelita Ragogo, says the interim government's lawyer, Gerard Mc Coy QC, produced media reports where Mr Qarase confirmed making "enquiries" with Australia and New Zealand.

Another issue brought up by Mr McCoy was a letter written by the deposed leader on the 8th January 2007, three days after the new interim government was sworn-in.

In the letter, Mr McCoy said Mr Qarase signed off as former prime minister of Fiji, requesting that he be paid a pension, an entitlement of some one that had formerly served as prime minister.

He was asked if his letter was an acknowledgment of him giving up his position.

Mr Qarase said he is the constitutionally elected prime minister of Fiji and remains that since he was appointed on 18 May 2006.