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The BBC's Phil Mercer in Suva
"The security zone around the parliamentary compound would allow the army to exert more pressure on the hostage takers"
 real 28k

The BBC's Phil Mercer
"A new civilian government will be appointed on Wednesday"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Military to pressure Fiji rebels
Fijians praying
Fijians have been praying for a peaceful outcome
The armed forces in Fiji say they have decided to step up the pressure on rebels who have been holding hostages inside the parliament building for six weeks.

A military spokesman said the army was thinking of imposing an exclusion zone around the parliamentary compound to separate the rebels from their supporters.

Supplies of electricity, water and food could also be cut off.

The military authorities have also announced that they will set up an interim civilian government to run the country.

New decree

The BBC's Phil Mercer in the capital Suva says the security zone around the parliamentary compound would allow the army to put more pressure on the hostage takers.

Mahendra Chaudhry
PM Mahendra Chaudhry (foreground) is still in captivity
A military spokesman has hinted that the zone could be introduced on Monday.

A decree was being prepared giving the army the right to temporarily acquire any land or building, restrict essential services such as supplies of food, electricity and water, and control entry and exit to the area.

'Return to democracy'

Military spokesman Filipo Tarakinikini said the new interim government would guide the country back to democracy.

He said that once the new administration was appointed the security forces could concentrate on securing the release of the hostages.

Rebel leader George Speight
Mr Speight said the hostages' safety could be in danger
The administration will be free of any input from rebels led by George Speight after they ignored a deadline to sign a peace accord.

The captives, including deposed ethnic Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, were seized six weeks ago by gunmen demanding the exclusion of ethnic Indians from top political posts.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tarakinikini said the new administration would include ethnic Indians.

He said: "There will be ethnic Indo-Fijians in the interim government line-up, although percentages I cannot say at this point in time."

The interim government will be charged with drawing up a new constitution and organising new elections.

Safety concerns

Newspaper reports in Fiji suggest some people on the military's list do not want to be considered because of concerns for their safety.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tarakinikini said he appreciated that some would not want to take part during this time of crisis. Those who did want to participate, he said, would be offered personal security.

Rebel spokesman Jo Nata said: "We hope they are prepared for the implications of their actions."

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See also:

28 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji rebels reject military rule
17 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji rebels to help rewrite constitution
07 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Speight's hold over Fiji
11 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji coup begins to bite
07 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji hostages' long ordeal
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