1 Nov 2006

Fiji's leader says he will resign if President fails to remove military commander

10:24 am on 1 November 2006

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is reported to have told President Iloilo that he will resign if the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama is not sacked.

The Fijilive news website says military sources have confirmed this based on information gathered by army intelligence.

The resignation threat follows Mr Qarase's failed attempt to have Commodore Bainimarama sacked yesterday and replaced by a subordinate officer.

The commander of Land Forces, Col Pita Driti, is quoted as saying that "íf they want to resign, it will be up to the president to form an interim government, but that has nothing to do with the military."

Col Driti says "the military will stick by its word and there will not be another coup."

He says "Commodore Bainimarama is still their commander and the government is in a dilemma and will have to eat their word."

Col Driti questioned the prime minister's motives today, saying if the government is trying to incite the people, the police will have to deal with the problem.

Col Driti, who has 6,000 armed troops under his command, says they will be in camp and only come out to help if the police call on them as the final bastion of law and order.

Col Driti has urged the people to stay calm and called on the government to rethink its strategy.

He says there ways to resolve conflicts and arrive at a better solution than the current path.