FIJI PRIME MINISTER, CABINET IN HIDING

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 1) – It’s been confirmed that Fiji’s prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is in hiding in Savusavu on the Fiji island of Vanua Levu for fear of arrest by the military.

Fiji media reports say Mr Qarase and his family left for Savusavu by a chartered flight from Nausori Airport yesterday.

Mr Qarase told local radio by mobile phone yesterday he was somewhere in Fiji and in control of the government.

He said some of his cabinet ministers were also in secret locations to avoid possible arrest by the military.

The cabinet ministers left Suva as the midday deadline passed for the government to give in to all of the military’s demands or face a clean-up campaign.

Mr Qarase cancelled all public engagements, including an invitation to meet with the vice president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, to go into hiding.

But, he says, his government is intact and functioning, and he is accessible by mobile phone.

Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend that he understands the military may remove some ministers and chief executive officers and replace them with others.

The prime minister says the government cannot give any further concessions to the military without breaking the law.

Mr Qarase says he believes that the military has set a new deadline of midday Monday next week.

He says this is most unfortunate because it continues to create fear and anxiety among the population.

Mr Qarase says this is the time for the citizens of Fiji, and for NGOs and civil society, to stand up and be counted as the country is fighting for its democracy.

He says the country does not want a dictator, be it military or otherwise.

The developments come as the international community has expressed extreme concern about events in Fiji and urged the military not to break the law and take unconstitutional actions.

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