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Fiji military surrounds Prime Minister's office

Troops tightened their stranglehold on the Fijian capital Suva on Tuesday.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2006 05:25 IST

Troops tightened their stranglehold on the Fijian capital Suva on Tuesday, surrounding the prime minister's office and mounting roadblocks after vowing to topple the government unless it quits.

Soldiers in full combat gear, who began taking control of Suva's streets on Monday night, set up checkpoints around the premier's office, an AFP reporter at the scene said, as local radio reported that a planned cabinet meeting had been postponed.

Soldiers also began confiscating the cars of ministers as the country's slow-burning coup appeared to enter a new phase, a day after the military disarmed police and ministerial bodyguards.

But the country's embattled Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said he still intended to go to work despite the "volatile" situation in Suva, but conceded he is already thinking about life after his possible ouster.

"I'm sitting at home and I hope to go to work. What happens after that, I don't know," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"If their coup is completed, well I come from one of the smaller islands, I'll just have to pick up and go home," he said, as maverick military commander Voreqe Bainimarama put massive pressure on Qarase's beleaguered government.

But Qarase, who was effectively appointed to his job by Bainimarama after a 2000 coup and who was reelected last May, said he did not expect bloodshed if a full-blown putsch does go ahead.

"I don't expect them to do something violent in the streets but it's a volatile situation," he said.