1 Dec 2006

Fiji military chief briefs President

1:53 pm on 1 December 2006

Fiji's military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, briefed the president and the military's commander-in-chief, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, on his plans this morning.

No details of the 40-minute briefing were released immediately.

But as his midday deadline passed for the government to agree to all his demands unconditionally or face removal, Commodore Bainimarama was at the national stadium in Suva watching annual sporting competitions between the army and the police.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says the rule of law has been challenged by threats from the military to bring political change.

Mr Qarase has urged people to stand up in defence of legality and constitutional rule.

He has questioned why the Fiji Law Society and its overseas counterparts have been silent when they have spoken out in the past.

Mr Qarase has urged NGOs and the Law Society to declare their support for their rule of law.

The chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights, Virisila Buadromo, said the commander must realize that any action outside of the law is unacceptable.

She said any takeover of a democratically elected government is illegal and in violation of the rule of law.

Civil Society groups were meeting a short while ago to decide on their next course of action.

Meanwhile, as tourism plummets and bookings are cancelled, thousands of industry workers have already been laid off while others are working reduced hours.