FIJI: Fiji politicians condemn military coup

Politicians' concern not documented by the censored media

Times of India
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Suva --- Fiji's political leaders criticised the coup by military commander Voreqe Bainimarama but media censorship by the armed forces meant many Fijians did not hear their condemnations.

The reporting of negative reaction to Fiji's fourth coup in two decades has been muted after military censors entered newsrooms on Tuesday around the country to vet news reports.

The leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, who was deposed as Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister in the 2000 coup and held hostage for 56 days, said Tuesday's military takeover was a sad day for Fiji.

"We just can't get out of the coup culture," Chaudhry said in the Daily Post newspaper.

"We can't support the takeover and we hope that commander will quickly restore democracy in the country," Chaudhry said.

The coup would worsen poverty, unemployment and further cripple the economy, he said.

Chaudhry said he would refuse to take part in any government appointed by Bainimarama.

Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes slammed the coup as illegal and also voiced concern about the impact on the economy, which relies heavily on tourism.

Beddoes called on the military to ensure members of deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase's government were well treated.

Qarase said late on Tuesday the military had "raped the constitution", brought shame on Fiji and made it a laughing stock.