NEW PRIME MINISTER: ‘I HAD NO CHOICE’

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 8) – Fiji's Military-appointed caretaker Prime Minister Jona Senilagakali said he had no choice but to oblige immediately after he was sworn in on Wednesday.

"When the army tells me what to do I have no choice but to oblige," said the military medical doctor, who is from Waciwaci in Lakeba, Lau.

On the legality of the appointment Dr Senilagakali said, "What legality are you talking about. You better ask the commander about that," he said.

Doctor Senilagakali said being the PM did not change anything. He said even though the Church and the Great Council of Chiefs opposed the moves made by the military, he was just in to do some work.

Doctor Senilagakali, 77, a Methodist Church lay preacher who has been on diplomatic postings in Tokyo as well as Los Angeles, said he was confident of carrying out the job.

He said he had been a permanent secretary for the prime minister and had worked for the health ministry and foreign affairs.

Doctor Senilagakali said everyone knew about the problem in Fiji since 2000 and how the people's economic lives had not been elevated.

He said that through the removal of the democratically elected Qarase-led government, the army would be able to rid corruption from all Government arms.

"To me life is not worth living if one is not happy," he said.

Dr Senilagakali's message to those that had lost their jobs as a result of the military takeover was to accept that the army was now in charge of the affairs of the nation.

"Once they accept the military regime is in charge our tourists will return, and jobs would be back to normal,'' he said.

He said the good thing was that the military had cleaned up the mess in the country.

Dr Senilagakali said taking up the PM's post was a challenge.

"If I can do something useful for the people of Fiji I think I would die a very happy life. "I think I still have the stamina and ability to do that because all my life I have always served the people," he said.

Dr Senilagakali's message to the people was, "Don't be afraid and remain calm."

Meanwhile he has also resigned as council member of the Fiji Medical Association after he was met with hostility when he arrived at the Medical School graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

One of his peers who is also a chief approached Dr Senilagakali and berated him for his decision to accept the interim prime minister-ship.

Dr Senilagakali said he was embarrassed in front of other invitees and with much regret tendered his resignation as council member of the FSMed.

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