Fiji's military denies coup deadline extension
Fiji's defiant military commander said reports that he had extended a coup deadline were baseless.india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 08:33 IST
Fiji's defiant military commander said reports that he had extended a coup deadline were baseless, but his troops stayed in their barracks for a second day on Saturday as a tense standoff with the government continued.
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase remained in hiding somewhere outside the capital, Suva, from where he insisted on Friday that he was still in control of the country.
There was no obvious troop presence on Saturday on the streets of the capital, where trading and other activities went ahead, though more quietly than during the week, as normal for the weekend. The strongly Christian country usually shuts down on Sundays.
Bainimarama dramatically escalated a longrunning feud on Thursday by threatening to launch a "cleaning up" campaign against the government if Qarase did not agree to a range of demands by midday on Friday.
He has demanded the government kill legislation that would grant pardons to conspirators in a 2000 coup in the South Pacific island nation, and quash two other bills that he says unfairly favour majority indigenous Fijians over the ethnic Indian minority.
He is also demanding the removal of Fiji's police chief, who has threatened to charge Bainimarama with sedition for his comments about toppling the government.
As the deadline passed uneventfully, Qarase said he believed the deadline had been pushed back to Monday.
When queried if there had been an extension, Bainimarama replied, "No".