Thursday, June 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Speight supporters go on rampage
Chaudhry govt ‘not to be restored’

SUVA, May 31 (AFP) — Fiji’s new military ruler today said there was no chance ethnic Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry’s government, which is being held hostage in parliament, would resume its leadership of the Pacific island nation.

“Mahendra Chaudhry will no longer come back as Prime Minister,” said Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who declared martial law on Monday and appointed a new civilian Prime Minister in the early hours of the day.

Cdre Bainimarama also announced today, in a surprise move, an indefinite postponement of the planned naming and swearing in of an interim civil administration.

“It is prudent at this point in time to retain (the) military council until the climate is right for a civil administration to take over,” he told senior officers at Fiji’s military headquarters.

“We will defer the naming and swearing in of the interim government until we are sure that the situation has stabilised to a point where they can ... put in place a viable constitution and pave the way for the next general elections.

Despite the declaration of martial law, the scene outside the besieged parliament was chaotic today and it appeared the military was still completely unable to enforce control over the coup leaders.

Speight’s armed supporters went on the rampage outside the building’s rear entrance. The police confirmed that at least 10 cars were hijacked and driven inside the compound. Their attack sent people and traffic scattering, and the area to the rear of parliament was deserted by mid-afternoon.

In a counter-move, the military reinforced its positions along the road to the front entrance of the building and increased barbed wire checkpoints around the city and trunk routes leading to the parliamentary complex.

Cdre Bainimarama dismissed the coup plotters’ reaction and made it clear that Speight’s men, ethnic Indians and members of the deposed Chaudhry Cabinet would not be included in the interim cabinet.

It is understood talks between the military and Speight’s group broke down today on this issue.

Meanwhile, the captors holding Fiji’s ethnic Indian premier Mahendra Chaudhry along with 32 other members of his government today released a woman hostage, who later returned to the parliament complex where hostages are being held.

WASHINGTON: The USA has called for the “immediate and unconditional’’ release of all hostages, including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, in Fiji and restoration of democratic constitutional government in the country.

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