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Monday, December 04, 2006

Fiji millitary begins clean-up campaign by removing guns and ammunition.

Fiji soldiers have begun loading guns and ammunition at the Police Tactical Response Division headquarters for removal after securing the compound more than two hours ago.

Fiji Times reporter Sera Janine, who is stationed outside the PTRD headquarters, said two trucks went inside the compound minutes ago and started loading guns and ammunition.

Ms Janine says she was told by a senior police officer who did not want to be identified that the soldiers did not have authorisation to inspect or remove the weapons and ammunition.

More than 40 soldiers were involved in the operation. Meanwhile, non-essential staff at the police station were sent home.

Confirmed reports from the Suva city say soldiers have also gone to the police residential barracks at Nasova in full combat gear to secure another police armoury there. In the process they have cordoned off parts of the barracks.

Earlier, Police Commissioner Moses Driver said the visit by military officers to the police tactical unit's compound just outside the capital, Suva, was not a takeover.
"It is a just a friendly visit," Driver said, dismissing reports the military had taken control of the compound as inaccurate.
"There is no confrontation of any sort."

A delegation of soldiers went to the police unit's headquarters and asked to see its weapons and ammunition, which was one of military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's demands of the Government, Driver said.

But the police unit had not received permission from the Home Affairs Ministry to let the soldiers view the weapons. The military delegation and police were now waiting for permission so the visit could go ahead, Driver said.
Soldiers wearing body armor and carrying semiautomatic rifles could be seen inside the property although police officers were guarding the entrance to the compound, where hundreds of onlookers have gathered.

Commodore Bainimarama has threatened to topple Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase at any time, after last week saying a deadline to meet his demands to "clean up" the government had expired.

This morning, Qarase said he was in his office in Suva and the government was still in charge. He said he was willing to hold more talks with Bainimarama on his demands.
Qarase said the army chiefs threatened action against the government amounts to treason.
"What he's saying he'll execute, that will be totally illegal," Qarase told local media.
"It will be against the constitution of Fiji, against the laws of Fiji and will amount to treason."

In a television interview on Sunday, Commodore Bainimarama said he was planning to appoint an interim civilian administration and hold elections at a later date to restore democracy to the country. He said Qarase must resign, or be removed.

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