14 Feb 2005

Fiji President reported to have held separate meetings with army commander and prime minister

2:10 pm on 14 February 2005

The Fiji President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, is reported to have summoned the military commander and the prime minister to Government House today in a bid to settle the widening rift between them.

Fijilive reports that the president requested separate meetings with the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

This followed the withdrawal by the army of the security detail surrounding Mr Qarase in an argument over funding, and a meeting on the weekend by the National Security council which planned to forward a report to the president on the situation.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says he was co-opted on to the national security meeting for a short time, but he can't divulge the outcome.

Mr Hughes says the army commander should meet the prime minister and settle their differences behind closed doors.

"It seems that it's almost like a soap opera that's played out, and my view is that people need to sit down round a table and thrash it through; I think that's the way forward. This can be easily picked up by the media and, I guess, amplified into a situation which probably doesn't properly reflect what's occurring."

The Fiji police commissioner, Andrew Hughes.

Meanwhile, the president's office says the military is still providing a security detail to the head of state.

An official couldn't comment on why the military was guarding the president but refusing to provide security to the prime minister.