Fiji's coup leader installs new police chief
The ruler warns that dissent will not be tolerated during the transition of power
SUVA, Fiji » Fiji's military ruler today replaced the country's police chief a day after he seized power after the commissioner refused to take orders from the new regime, and warned that his troops would not tolerate dissent.
Commodore Frank Bainimarama accused ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase of inciting people to rise against the military by declaring his takeover illegal, and said he had declared a state of emergency after receiving intelligence that some people were planning civil disruption.
Bainimarama said the military wanted a peaceful transition of power to an interim administration and eventually elections that would restore democracy.
"But should we be forced to use force, let me state that we will do so very quickly," he said.
Bainimarama, who declared yesterday he had seized executive authority from the president and dismissed Qarase, today swore in an elderly military medic and political novice, Dr. Jona Senilagakali, as caretaker prime minister.
But he said his plan for the appointment of a full interim government was on hold because Fiji's powerful council of tribal chiefs had canceled a meeting scheduled for next week that he had hoped would endorse a caretaker government.
The cancellation of the Great Council of Chiefs' meeting was a blow to Bainimarama because its approval would have signaled the chiefs -- hugely influential among the majority indigenous Fijian population -- gave tacit endorsement to the takeover.
Bainimarama said ministerial posts in the caretaker government would be thrown open to applicants via advertisements, and in the meantime a military commission would rule along with Senilagakali.
The military tightened its grip on government after a tense day in which senior bureaucrats and lawmakers considered whether to oppose Bainimarama, and as Qarase left the capital after being warned by the armed forces not to make trouble.
Bainimarama declared a state of emergency, ordering a security cordon to be set up around Suva, check points positioned at strategic points in the city, and for all military reservists to be brought in for duty supporting the regime.