2 Nov 2006

Fiji's PM offers dialogue with military commander

5:19 am on 2 November 2006

Fiji's prime minister has offered to hold further dialogue with the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, who has been demanding the government's resignation over controversial legislation.

Laisenia Qarase made the offer in a national broadcast on radio and television last night, a day after he failed in his attempt to have Commodore Bainimarama sacked and replaced by a subordinate officer.

Mr Qarase said he was willing to take part in talks with an open mind to serve the best interests of Fiji.

As well, Mr Qarase said his government is trying to convene an urgent meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs next week to resolve the impasse with the military.

He said this is because the legislation Commodore Bainimarama is opposing were sanctioned by the Great Council.

Mr Qarase also said the police are investigating the threats made by Commodore Bainimarama against his government.

He said unlike during previous Fiji coups, the international community is now more proactive in protecting democratically elected governments when the rule of law and constitutionality are threatened.

Mr Qarase said Australia, New Zealand and the United States are coming out very strongly in favour of the maintenance of the rule of law in Fiji.