21 Jun 2005

Fiji government blames President for stand-off with the military

10:24 am on 21 June 2005

The Fiji government has blamed the country's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, for its stand-off with the military.

The Fiji Times quotes a senior government source as saying despite requests by the government to President Iloilo to discipline the military commander, he has refused to do so.

The government source says under the constitution, the president is obliged to act on the advice of the cabinet, or in this case the minister for home affairs.

But the source says "every time the government advises the president to take action against the military commander in order to maintain national security, it gets knocked back."

The government source says while the vice president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, is supportive of the government, President Iloilo's lack of decisiveness is the stumbling block.

The Fiji Times says the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, visited the president at Government House last Saturday but it was not clear what the two discussed.

Meanwhile, the secretary of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs, Asesela Sadole, says the council delegation which visited President Iloilo two weeks ago did not advise him to step down but merely to intervene in the stand-off.

Mr Sadole says the issue of the removal of the president is a sensitive one which only the Great Council is authorised to determine since it is the appointing body.