6 Sep 2007

Fiji regime says state of emergency only a minor measure

5:40 pm on 6 September 2007

The interim regime in Fiji says the new state of emergency is only a minor measure.

New emergency regulations were announced after the interim prime minister and military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, accused the deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase of trying to destabilise the situation so that he could attract the attention of the Australian military.

Commodore Bainimarama had earlier threatened Mr Qarase that he could be sent back into internal exile in the Lau group.

A spokesman for the Commodore, Parmesh Chand, says the latest measure is based on a security assessment by the authorities.

"We would not like the international governments to overreact to this news because really it is no more than a very minor and temporary measure."

Parmesh Chand.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the Citizen's Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says this comes after the interim regime had made a commitment to the European Union to lift the restriction by the end of May.

I would think it is a step backwards in the roadmap back towards democracy and we are looking to elections in 2009.

Earlier today, Commodore Bainimarama said the military had been very lenient on Mr Qarase and allowed him to return to Suva for his court case challenging the legality of last December's military overthrow.