16 Jan 2006

Fiji acting president calms stand-off between government and military boss

7:01 pm on 16 January 2006

Fiji's acting president and commander in chief, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, has succeeded in diffusing the standoff between the government and the military.

In talks chaired by Ratu Joni, the prime minister and the military commander have agreed to work together in the interests of the nation.

A Government House statement says the agreement came during more than two hours of talks in which there was a "frank exchange of views."

Ratu Joni says Laisenia Qarase has agreed that the military commander and the police commissioner will be invited to attend meetings of the National Security Council as observers.

The acting president says the prime minister has also assured Commodore Bainimarama that the concerns of the military on several controversial government Bills will be addressed before the final reading of these bills.

The military is particularly concerned about the Reconciliation and Unity Bill, the indigenous fishing grounds bill and the legislation bringing back the (indigenous) Fijian court system.

The prime minister has also assured the commander that the military's doubts regarding the voter registration process for this year's general election will be raised with the Electoral Commission and the supervisor of elections.

The military commander has agreed with the prime minister and the acting president that he will only make comments to the media after communicating his views to the government.

Ratu Joni says in this regard it is critical that the government and the military exercise discretion at all times while dealing with each other.