2 Jun 2007

Fiji military regime denies Qarase's movements ever restricted

7:57 am on 2 June 2007

The interim administration in Fiji says there are no restrictions on thedeposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, preventing him from travelling to Suva.

A spokesman for the interim prime minister, Parmesh Chand, now says there have never been any such restrictions.

The comment comes a day after the military commander lifted the emergency regulations amid pressure by the European Union to live up to promises made by his representatives during a visit to Brussels in March.

The end of the internal exile comes after the military repeatedly banned Mr Qarase from leaving his home island in the Lau group where he has been since the December coup.

In March, the military said Mr Qarase would not be allowed to set foot on the main island Viti Levu.

A month later, Mr Qarase's lawyer tried to get a court order to lift the travel ban as Mr Qarase intended to testify in his case on the legality of the military take-over.

Although the interim prime minister appointed by the military, Dr Jona Senilagakali, admitted that the coup was illegal, there is no court ruling on the matter.

The interim administration now says Mr Qarase never faced an internal travel ban.

The military's spokesman has not corroborated the comment by the interim prime minister's spokesman.