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Bainimarama seizes control in Fiji -

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Bainimarama seizes control in Fiji

Broadcast: 05/12/2006

Reporter: Sean Dorney

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has declared himself President of Fiji, plunging the Pacific island
nation into its fourth coup in 20 years.


TONY JONES: Fiji's civil society has been shattered by its fourth coup in two decades. Earlier this
evening the country's military chief appeared on local television to announce that he's taken over
the Government. Commodore Frank Bainimarama said he was taking on the role of the president and
planned to appoint an interim prime minister and Government. In recent weeks Bainimarama had
repeatedly threatened to topple the popularly-elected Government.

Tonight the Prime Minister remains under house arrest, his residence surrounded by armed men. His
direct appeal to Australia for military intervention was directed earlier today by Prime Minister

Our Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney reports from the Fijian capital Suva.

SEAN DORNEY, PACIFIC CORRESPONDENT: It had been threatening for weeks and this evening it was
declared Fiji's fourth coup.

COMMODORE FRANK BAINIMARAMA, FIJIAN MILITARY CHIEF: As of 6:00 this evening, the military has taken
over the Government, has executive authority and the running of this country. I urge all citizens
to remain calm and maintain the peace that currently prevails. As of now, the military and the
police are working together to ensure that the situation remains calm and that people do not take
advantage of the current situation and break the law.

SEAN DORNEY: The military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, said he'd be appointing a military
doctor as interim prime minister.

COMMODORE FRANK BAINIMARAMA: I, under the legal doctrine of necessity, will step into the shoes of
the President given that he has been blocked from exercising his constitutional powers.

SEAN DORNEY: Earlier today, the intimidation of the Government continued with cabinet ministers
having their cars confiscated.

Police were still in control at the Prime Minister's residence where he tried to hold a cabinet
meeting. Supporters came.

SEPESA NIUNATAIWAIU, CHRISTIAN PASTOR: He has been chosen by the people and that's why we support

SEAN DORNEY: Some offered prayers. But it wasn't long before the military turned up. Their first
demand was for the keys to the prime ministerial vehicle. Eventually the police allowed them in to
drive it away. Senior government officials, however, lent Mr Qarase their support.

SEMESA KARAVAKI, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: You know, me, as a supervisor of elections in Fiji - we
don't condone this.

SEAN DORNEY: The military then turned up in force.

These soldiers are extremely aggressive. They're trying to stop us filming them outside the Prime
Minister's residence.

We were pushed and shoved all the way to the street intersection, well away from where the Prime
Minister and his family were now well under siege. Inside, his family was defiant.

Laisenia Qarase received a message from the President's office, asking him to resign. He refused.

LAISENIA QARASE, DEPOSED FIJI PM: I'd like to say that the Government they want to set up will be
totally illegal, it's - the actions they've taken of course are unconstitutional and what the
military commander has done is - really, he has raped our constitution and we are becoming a
laughing stock around the world.

ANDREW HUGHES, FIJI POLICE COMISSIONER: Bainimarama is a front man for power-seeking people in Fiji
that failed at the last election. They're not able to gain power legitimately, so they're using him
as a means to obtain that power.

SEAN DORNEY: The Prime Minister is powerless and Fiji's fourth coup is a fact. Sean Dorney,