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Alternative Government 'In Exile' Planned

20 July 2000

Pasifik Nius

SUVA: An alternative government comprising deposed Fiji Labour Party-led coalition parliamentarians is being planned in the west of Fiji, the Daily Post reported today.

The paper said the government, which would operate "in exile", was expected to be formed at Sorokoba, Ba, later today.

It would be led by Ratu Tevita Momoedonu as Prime Minister and Poseci Bune as his deputy, according to the Daily Post.

Deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was named as finance minister with former University of the South Pacific academic Dr Tupeni Baba, one of two deputy PMs in the deposed government, as foreign affairs minister.

However, Momoedonu had also been named by caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase for the industrial relations portfolio in the interim cabinet which was not sworn in yesterday after threats by rebel leader George Speight.

But Momoedonu failed to turn up for the swearing-in ceremony and later told the Fiji Sun he had not accepted any appointment in the interim cabinet.

He was critical of the inclusion of rebels or their supporters, and non-elected members in the line-up.

Momoedonu was also reported to have presented names from the former elected coalition government to form a government of national unity.

"I'm not happy with the [interim] line-up," he told the Fiji Sun.

"It includes rebels who illegally overthrew the democratically elected People's Coalition Government. It also has the names of people who have not been elected by the people of Fiji," said Momoedonu.

He told the newspaper he would need to consult his Labour Party colleagues before making any further decisions on his appointment by the interim President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Momoedonu said Fiji was already starting to bear the full brunt of sanctions from the international community.

"Fiji is already being brushed away by the international communities," he told the Fiji Sun.

"There could be more sanctions coming in the near future if things are not done in line with democracy."

Speight's rebels abandoned Parliament yesterday after a 60-day siege and set up camp at Kalabu Fijian School, between Suva and Nausori.

Before leaving the parliamentary compound in a convoy of eight buses, rebel supporters set fire to nine vehicles.

Eyewitnesses said rebel supporters from the convoy stole fish and other foodstuffs from Laqere market and hijacked a taxi.

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