13 Dec 2006

Fiji military isolates Qarase on his home island

6:28 pm on 13 December 2006

Fiji's military says it will isolate the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, on his home island of Vanuabalavu in the Lau Group.

Radio Legend says the military will monitor all transport services to ensure Mr Qarase does not leave the island which is more than 300 kilomtres to the east of the capital.

The military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, says they have made their stance known and will not allow Mr Qarase to return to Suva.

But Mr Qarase says he has plans to travel to Suva this week, although he has been having difficulty finding transport to return.

Mr Qarase says he has no reason to fear imprisonment despite a warning from the Land Force commander, Col Pita Drito, that he could be detained on Nukulau where the May 2000 coup front man, George Speight, is imprisoned.

Mr Qarase says Nukulau and other prisons are for people who have committed criminal acts and have been sentenced by the courts.

The deposed prime minister says as far as he knows, he has not done anything wrong and he sees no reason why he should be taken to Nukulau when he reaches Suva.

Mr Qarase says he knows he may be detained and questioned, but if he is taken to Nukulau there would be no justification for that because he has never committed any crime.

Meanwhile, soldiers have been deployed to Monasavu in central Viti Levu to guard the main hydro electricity installations.

The hydro dam and power station were seized by rebels after the May 2000 coup resulting in several months of power disruptions.