Martial law declared in Fiji - again

Fijian interim Prime Minister and military commander Voreqe Bainimarama today reinstated martial law in the South Pacific country.

The state of "public emergency regulation" was intended to stop ousted Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his party executives from "destabilising our progress", Commodore Bainimarama said.

He said Mr Qarase and his spokesman Peceli Kinivuwai were spreading lies about his regime, which seized power in a bloodless coup nine months ago, Fijilive website reported.

"The lies they were spreading were not in the best interests of the nation, he said.

"It is solely for that purpose, nothing else. If they try to speak out and destabilise the country again, then they will be taken back to the islands. Once that happens, the emergency regulation ends.

The previous state of martial law, intended to "move the country forward peacefully with minimum civil unrest and disruption", was lifted in May.

The state of martial law was declared at noon and would last for one month. The Fijian interim government had scheduled a press conference for this afternoon.

Cdre Bainimarama blamed media reporting Mr Qarase and Mr Kinivuwai's claims of intimidation by the army for hurting the interim regime's progress.

Cdre Bainimarama said the claims were baseless and "the easy cure is for Laisenia Qarase to return to Vanuabalavu -- him and his spokesman. They can talk from there".

Mr Kinivuwai said he was aware of the return of the emergency regulation and was now cautious about what he said.

"I am aware of it. I have been told not to make any more comments. I hope you guys will respect that," he told fijilive.

Cdre Bainimarama earlier warned Mr Qarase to stop criticising the military or risk being sent back to an outlying island.

Mr Qarase this week began his first visit to the country's capital since he was overthrown.

He had been restricted to his island home on Vanua Balavu since the coup, but recently won a court decision allowing him to travel to Suva.

While in the city he plans to attend a court hearing contesting his removal from office and meet with his political party.

But Cdre Bainimarama warned Mr Qarase would be sent back if he continued to criticise Fiji's interim government and military, Fijilive reported.

"The government and the military have been very lenient on Qarase," the site quoted Cdre Bainimarama as saying.

"We allowed him to return to his family and to attend his court case, but not to destabilise the situation - that's what he's been doing.

"The easy cure is for Laisenia Qarase to return to Vanua Balavu - him and his spokesman. They can talk from there," he said.

Mr Qarase angered the military by alleging he was threatened, in a phone call before leaving his home, that he would be killed if he returned to Suva.

The caller identified themselves as being from the Fiji Military, Mr Qarase said.

Mr Qarase has also claimed he had been followed by the military since his return to Suva.

The Fiji Times reported claims Qarase's driver in Suva was detained by soldiers and roughed-up.


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