18 May 2006

Fiji election win confirmed for SDL, military commander challenges leaders

1:10 pm on 18 May 2006

The leader of Fiji's SDL Party, Laisenia Qarase, is to be sworn in as the prime minister this afternoon.

This comes as the recount of the Laucala Open seat confirmed an SDL win there.

This gives Mr Qarase's side 38 seats in the 71-member assembly.

But as Walter Zweifel reports the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is already challenging the SDL leaders.

"The SDL's re-election marks the third time that a Fiji government has been confirmed at the polls for a second consecutive term. But the SDL's victory has been overshadowed by the disapproval from the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama who has not ruled out declaring martial law. He suggests any such move could only be provoked if led down the path by the SDL government, warning it not to fight the military. He also says he wonders why SDL leaders keep challenging the military:"

Is it because of a hidden agenda? Is it because they want us to do exactly the opposite to what we did in 2000 so that we can move away and they continue with the radical issues that came out in 2000 and continued in the last five years?

Commodore Bainimarama has also warned Australia and New Zealand against supporting moves to have him replaced with an outsider. Meanwhile, Mr Qarase is expected to announce a new government that includes Labour Party members who are to be invited in line with the constitution. In Suva, I'm Walter Zweifel.