17 Feb 2007

Fiji's deposed PM denies calling for foreign intervention

11:56 am on 17 February 2007

Fiji's deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has denied calling for foreign military intervention when his government was overthrown last December.

Mr Qarase made his denial to the Fiji Times Online after police confirmed today that he was under investigation for calling foreign military intervention

The assistant commissioner crime, Joe Rasiga, said under the Penal Code anyone instigating a foreign invasion of the country is liable to be charged with treason.

Mr Qarase says no prime minister has the authority to call for foreign military intervention because that is a cabinet matter.

He says "there is absolutely no truth to the allegations" as he had never sought military intervention by Australia or New Zealand.

Both the Australian prime minister, John Howard, and his New Zealand counterpart, Helen Clark, had confirmed receiving a request for military intervention from Mr Qarase and ruled it out.

Mr Howard said at the time that he did not "want Australian troops fighting in the streets of Suva."

If Mr Qarase is charged with treason and found guilty, he could face life in prison.