FIJI'S MILITARY LEADERS EXTEND STATE OF EMERGENCY

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By Anne Barker

SUVA, Fiji (July 16, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's military leaders have extended a state of emergency because of continuing civil unrest in parts of the country where rebel groups still have hostages and illegal weapons.

The military says it will maintain a curfew and army checkpoints around the country despite the hostages' release on Thursday.

Villagers who support George Speight's rebels still have control of a police station at Lambasa and the Monasavu dam on the mainland, which supplies power to much of Fiji.

They're yet to return all arms and ammunition to the military, even though the rebels at parliament have handed theirs in.

The deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry says he'll be meeting his coalition colleagues to determine the best means to secure their return to power.

Meanwhile, Fiji returned to civilian rule with the military regime handing power to the new president selected by the Great Council of Chiefs.

The great council of Chiefs said the new civilian president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, will have a free hand in choosing his new cabinet.

The chairman of the Chiefs meeting, Sitiveni Rabuka, said Fiji has found a way through its troubles. "I think we have just resolved the crisis that we were in so I think the resolution really is the victor," he said.

But rebel leader George Speight is claiming victory, saying the new president will create a cabinet responding to rebel demands.

"I have left it to the discretion of the president, but he might want to change a number of names in there," Speight said. "But there's certain key people in the key portfolios that must be in the hands of our people."

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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