ABC News: Fiji Coup

Ambrose Andrews ambrosea at SPAMprimus.com.au
Mon May 29 09:28:14 MDT 2000




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ABC News
Monday May 29, 2000



ABC Newsmail headlines at a glance

*Army chief set to take over control of Fiji*

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Army chief set to take over control of Fiji

Diplomatic sources say the Fijian Army chief Frank
Bainimarama will
take over as ruler of Fiji, and his appointment
will be announced
shortly.

The sources were speaking to reporters shortly
after the army
seized control of Suva and ordered troops to
"shoot-to-kill," to
enforce a new 48-hour curfew.

The move followed an overnight rampage by
supporters of a coup
against the country's elected government.

The Government has been held hostage in parliament
since May 19.


 Kill threat

Fiji's coup leader George Speight has threatened
to execute the
President's daughter first, if there is any
military attempt to
free his hostages.

The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has revealed
the threat at a
press conference in Canberra.

Fiji's President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's
daughter, who is a
minister in Mahendra Chaudhry's Government, is one
of about 30
hostages being held in the Parliament compound.

Mr Downer says he is appalled at Mr Speight's threat.

"This is a measure of the man. Speight has said to
Ratu Mara that
if there is any attempt militarily to release the
hostages the
first person he, Speight, will shoot will be the President's
daughter," he said."So that's the type of person
we're dealing with
here. This is simply appalling, an appalling thing
to say."


 Sanctions

Federal Cabinet has decided on a raft of sanctions
it is prepared
to impose against Fiji if it does not return to constitutional
rule.

Australia will suspend its trade and economic
relations agreement
with Fiji, downgrade its foreign aid program,
cancel joint defence
exercises and any naval visits to Australia.
There will also be a review of Australia's
sporting contacts with
Fiji, and a possible ban on all visits to
Australia by Fiji's rugby
union team.

Australia has already decided to cancel the Fiji
leg of the Olympic
torch relay.

But Mr Downer is giving no ultimatum for the
sanctions to take
effect.

"We will see how the proposals that Ratu Mara has
put forward
evolve," he said.

"Both we and the New Zealanders are of the view
that today is not
the day to impose the sanctions.

"Today is the day to flag what sorts of sanctions
we'll be taking
and these are sanctions obviously that would very
much damage
Fiji."


 Visa cancelled

The Federal Government has cancelled Mr  Speight's
visa for
Australia.

Mr Speight has residency status in Australia, and
therefore a visa
for re-entry to the country.

But immigration authorities have now cancelled the
visa on the
grounds that Mr Speight's presence in Australia
could be a risk to
the health and safety of the local community.


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