Fiji Time: 11:40 AM on Tuesday 23 December

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Military now in charge in Fiji

1850 FJT
Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Update: 6.50PM Fiji's military says it has taken control of the Government with the army commander dismissing Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and effectively taking over the presidency.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama announced at a press conference just over half an hour ago that he had assumed executive control of the nation and appointed as interim Prime Minister Dr Jona Senilagakali a former Fiji Medical Council president and head of the military hospital.

As well the army commander urged all Cabinet ministers in the Qarase government to resign within a month and hand over all Government property in their possession in return for one month's severance pay.

Commodore Bainimarama said the Government's actions in the past few days had necessitated the military's moves.

"Circumstances have forced us to take control," he said.

"We reiterate that this action has been taken with much reluctance.

"We are now in limbo.

"However, the Constitution will remain."

Commodore Bainimarama said he would meet Government CEOs tomorrow to give them control over their own ministries while a military council provides him advice as Head of Government.

He maintained that while he was in control he would ask the Great Council of Chiefs meeting to appoint Ratu Josefa Iloilo as President at its next meeting.

He said Commodore Bainimarama urged Fiji citizens and foreign governments to bear with and understand the situation the country was in.

He maintained that security, safety and the nation's wellbeing were his priority.

Meanwhile, there has been no word from Government House or Mr Qarase on the latest development.

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