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Fiji military commander threatens to exclude Qarase from forum

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 25, 2009) – Fiji’s interim Prime Minister has warned the ousted Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, that his party might not be included in the proposed President’s Political Forum if his party continues to criticise the interim government.

[PIR editor’s note: Commander Frank Bainimarama has been in power as Fiji’s "Interim Prime Minister" since he overthrew Qarase in December 2006. Bainimarama as turned a deaf ear to other Pacific leaders who have urged the military commander to return to democracy and hold general elections.]

A spokesman for the SDL, Ted Young, believes the threats were sparked by comments made by Mr Qarase, who is on a trip to Australia.

But Mr Young says it was nothing that hadn’t been said before and his party was surprised by the response:

"The threats of excluding SDL from the forum would be a very counter productive move, in fact the forum will not achieve its purpose if the biggest political party is absent from the Forum and it will be an unwise move on the part of the interim regime and Banimarama to exclude SDL."

Another round of preparatory political discussions is due to be held in Fiji in just over two weeks.

The Fiji situation will be discussed at a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in London next week.


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