Fiji chiefs urged to accept coup
Meeting of tribal chiefs debates plan for return to civilian rule.
According to statement released late on Wednesday by the chiefs, the plan would see:
Laisenia Qarase, the prime minister ousted in last month’s coup, asked to resign and step aside;
The creation of an interim government under the control of Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the former president, aided by military and civilian advisers;
Troops returning to their barracks; and
An amnesty for Bainimarama and other coup leaders
The council of chief has constitutional power to appoint the president and Bainimarama has warned that if the council does not go along with his plan the military could rule Fiji for the next 50 years.
“Maintaining a stance whereby you still recognize the ousted government I think is unrealistic”
Ratu Epeli Ganilau,
former chairman Great Council of Chiefs
The chiefs at present recognize Bainimarama only as military chief, not as the nation’s president.
“Maintaining a stance whereby you still recognize the ousted government I think is unrealistic,” Ganilau said at the meeting.
Ganilau said the chiefs were “failing to accept that the military are calling the shots. I don’t support the way a democratically elected government was ousted but I do support the process that is going on now.”
His comments referred to Bainimarama’s campaign to clean up what he said was the corruption in the former administration.
Bainimarama has said he is committed to returning Fiji to interim civilian government as soon as practicable.
But he says this is dependent on the chiefs endorsing his plan to reappoint Iloilo as president, after which a lawful interim civilian-led government can be sworn in.