10 Nov 2006

Fiji military leader still refuses to attend Great Council meeting

7:31 am on 10 November 2006

Fiji's military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is continuing the stand-off with the government by calling on it to dump all three controversial bills before he agrees to attend a meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs, the GCC.

The decision follows a visit by a GCC delegation to the camp to ask the commander to address the chiefs about his side of the row between the government and the military.

Linda Skates reports from Suva.

"The delegation was hoping to persuade the commander to attend a special session planned for today (Fri) by the Great Council of Chiefs, which is attempting to mediate and resolve the impasse. But, a military spokesman now says Commodore Bainimarama will only turn up if the government agrees to get rid of all three bills. The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says they are dropping the controversial amnesty clause from the Reconciliation bill but he told the GCC that they won't withdraw the Qoliqoli legislation or the proposal to set up a Land Claims Tribunal. Mr Qarase says they have widespread support among indigenous Fijians. The military says it is now waiting for a response to its demands from the Great Council of Chiefs."