1 Nov 2006

Fiji president retains Bainimarama despite military's anti-government stance

2:49 pm on 1 November 2006

Fiji's president and commander-in-chief, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, has retained Commodore Bainimarama as the military commander.

The military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, has told Radio Legend President Iloilo's action came after senior military officers pledged their loyalty and support for Commodore Bainimarama.

It happened only hours after the president had agreed to a request from the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, to sack Commodore Bainimarama and replace him with a subordinate officer.

Major Leweni says they received confirmation from Government House last night that Commodore Bainimarama had been retained and the message had been passed on to all troops.

Meanwhile, the director of Fiji's citizens constitutional forum, the reverend Akuila Yabaki, says the military and the government need to sit down and talk.

The military has threatened to remove the government unless it drops its Reconciliation and Unity Bill and the Qoliqoli Bill.

The Reverend Yabaki says while the CCF agrees with some of the concerns raised by Commodore Bainimarama, a democratically elected government must be allowed to do its work.

The Reverend Yabaki says a solution would be a separate body to vet contentious legislation.

"We think, as in South Africa, all b ills that have constitutional implications are automatically referred to the Constitutional Court for an opinion before the President signs them in law. And we think that might be a way of dealing with the contentious bills."