Wednesday, May 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Nailatikau named Fiji PM
India to send official

SUVA, May 30 (Agencies) — Fiji’s military chief Commodore Frank Bainamarama has named Mr Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as the country’s new Prime Minister, Fiji radio reported today.

Mr Nailatikau is the husband of Mrs Adi Koila Mara who was the Tourism Minister in the ousted government of former Premier Mahendra Chaudhry. She is currently one of some 30 hostages being held in Parliament by coup leader George Speight.

Meanwhile, Speight today refused to recognise the authority of the country’s new military ruler, and called on the army to replace him.

Speight questioned Commodore Bainamarama’s control over the military.

At a news conference in the parliamentary complex, Speight claimed only half of Fiji’s military supported Commodore Bainamarama while the other half supported the rebels.

After declaring martial law and taking command of the country late yesterday, Fiji’s new military rulers said they would begin negotiations to free the hostages. The forces have not cracked down on the rebels or stopped their supporters from entering Parliament.

As a delegation of four officers from the military met Speight representatives today afternoon at a theological college near Parliament, rebel supporters threw rocks at cars, and soldiers did nothing to stop them.

Meanwhile, formalising his powers, Commodore Bainamarama today revoked the 1997 Constitution, but in a second decree said all laws in force under that Constitution would remain unchanged under martial rule.

Commodore Bainamarama said Speight would have to be granted an amnesty despite his “criminal act” in taking the country’s Prime Minister hostage.

He said Fiji’s President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara had already promised Speight an amnesty.

TNS adds from New Delhi: With an objective to evolve a consensus among the Commonwealth, a top Indian official is leaving for Australia and New Zealand for consultations on the current situation in Fiji.

A press note issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said here on Tuesday that “Consequent upon declaration of martial law in Fiji yesterday, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh has instructed the Secretary (Economic Relations), Mr S.T. Davare, to go to Australia and New Zealand”. Mr Davare is expected to leave shortly and put across India’s stand on the developments.

India is initiating a process of consultations among Commonwealth countries so that an action plan can emerge at the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London on June 6.

Mr Davare will also be visiting the Fijian capital Suva, the press note said.

A recommendation on the suspension of Fiji’s membership from Commonwealth is likely to be taken at the CMAG meeting next month. As a member of the Commonwealth, Fiji is a party to the Harare Declaration and the Milbrook Action Programme of 1995. The Milbrook Action Programme had called for suspension of a member which comes under a military rule.

India has maintained that concerted international pressure was necessary in order to restore the legitimate government in Fiji and that New Delhi was ready to play its part. New Delhi has held that the move to dislodge Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was in violation of the principles of Harare Declaration and the Milbrook Action Programme of the Commonwealth.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |