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Fiji Time: 11:29 AM on Tuesday 2 September

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Army-appointed Fiji PM admits coup is illegal

1205 FJT
Thursday, December 07, 2006

Update: 12.05PM Fiji's Army-appointed prime minister has admitted the military takeover of the country is illegal but says it is a lesser evils compared to "the corrupt activities of the ousted, democratically-elected government".

Jona Senilagakali, an army doctor, has also spoken to TVNZ of his surprise after being appointed by army chief Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to the top job.

He agreed with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's assertion that the takeover was illegal.

"There's no doubt about it. It is an illegal takeover," he told ABC radio.

"It's an illegal takeover to clean up the mess of a much bigger illegal activity of the previous government.

"So what choice do you have? To me, it's better that you do this illegal activity to clean up a much bigger, illegal mess so that we can bring peace ... to the people of Fiji."

Dr Senilagakali said his army background led him to accept his new post.

"I've been given a task by the commander and I've been in the army since August 16, 1990. I have a regimental number. Under the act, I came in and took an oath," he said.

"Whatever the commander tells me to do, I have no choice but to do it."

Dr Senilagakali, whos adamant he will not draw the prime ministers salary, says he was not consulted about the interim prime ministership.

"He (Commodore Bainimarama) just went, when he made the press conference the other day, and he just made the announcement. I had no choice," he said.

"(I was) Very surprised. Very, very surprised. After that when we went to the officers' mess, I told him 'why didn't you let me know?'

"(He) said no, if I'd let you know you would have refused, I know. So the only thing is to command you'."

Dr Senilagakali said he believed he was called to the job by God.

"I have this conviction that I have been called by divine authority to do something for the people of Fiji," he said.

"I am a Christian and I go by Christian teaching.

"I hate people who talk against people who are the Hindus and the Muslims in this country. I hate to hear that.

"I often preach that from the pulpit. Hatred does not bring any good to the people."

He said the military government was not pointing guns to kill people.

"We're trying to put in place a system which is acceptable and fair to everybody," he said.


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