NEGOTIATIONS TO BEGIN ON FIJI'S POLITICAL CRISIS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 30, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Formal negotiations between the civilian coup leader, George Speight, and Fiji's new military government are due to get under way in Suva.

The coup leader says he expects to be given a role in the military government.

Radio Australia correspondent Graeme Dobell reports from Suva that George Speight also says his agreement with the military must be formalized in legal decrees.

"George Speight is backing away from his first angry public response for the new military regime when he attacked the military as divided and called for the commander of the Fiji Forces to resign.

"The rebel leader now says the military regime will deliver all his objectives, an end to the leadership of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, a new government and a new Constitution.

"And Speight says he will also get a broad amnesty for all those involved in his civil coup launched 12 days ago.

"Formal negotiations with a team of four military officers are about to begin.

"Speight says the talks will take place in the parliamentary compound, not outside on neutral ground as proposed by Fiji's military.

"Speight says he will release Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and other MP's only after his agreements with the military regime are proclaimed in legal decrees.

"Graeme Dobell, Radio Australia, Suva."

 

AUSTRALIA CALLS ON FIJI MILITARY TO RELEASE HOSTAGES

CANBERRA, Australia (May 30, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, has called on the military leader of Fiji to release hostages held in the Suva Parliament building as his first priority.

Mr. Downer said he's been told Commodore Frank Bainimarama is highly regarded as a professional and moderate naval officer.

Mr. Downer said there's no reason to believe the military commander is working in concert with coup leader George Speight.

"What his intentions are, that isn't entirely clear. But first and foremost it seems that the President rather willingly stood aside to allow the military commander to take over and the military commander possibly could be taking over temporarily in order to bring the situation under control," Mr. Downer said.

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