12 Dec 2006

Fiji military continues reshaping administration

3:52 pm on 12 December 2006

Fiji's military administration is continuing with its move to reshape the government.

Chief executives from the various government ministries are due to meet the caretaker prime minster and the commander at the barracks today.

From Suva, here's Philippa Tolley.

"Commodore Frank Bainimarama is reported to be wanting to reduce the size of Fiji's cabinet and the number of government ministries. And the meeting due to be held today is likely to cover such issues and clarify who is willing to co-operate with the military regime. The caretaker prime minister, has already said decisions over the shape of the government will be made by the commander and the military council, not him. But he has told local media this morning that the military will not increase the value added tax to fifteen percent as passed by the lower house in the budget shortly before the coup. The military has confirmed that it has sacked more senior government officials. The head of the finance ministry is the latest to go. The military had been trying to find him over the weekend after he signed an order last week, restricting spending."

The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has hit back at the leader of the Fiji coup, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

The military leader accused Mr Downer of inciting unrest and violence by calling for people in Fiji to show passive resistance.

Bur Mr Downer says the Commodore is a military dictator who has taken over a peaceful and democratic country and is now demanding silence not only from the people of Fiji who he is bullying and cajoling and threatening, but he is even threatening people from other countries.

He says Commodore Bainimarama should understand that if you seize power from the barrel of a gun, it's not going to be welcomed.

Mr Downer says hauling people into the military barracks there who don't agree with him and is humiliating them and not a civilised way to behave.