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Fiji's Deposed PM Calls for Peaceful Demonstrations


Fiji's ousted prime minister is calling for peaceful demonstrations against the military regime that toppled the elected government earlier this week.

During an interview broadcast on Fiji Radio Friday, deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase also urged bureaucrats not to cooperate with coup leaders. He was speaking from his home village in Fiji's remote east.

Mr. Qarase was ousted Tuesday after a year-long power struggle with Fiji's military chief, Commodore Frank Bainimarama. It was the island nation's fourth coup in 20 years.

On Thursday, Fiji's new caretaker Prime Minister, Jona Senilagakali, warned that elections might not take place for another two years. He said the military will decide when new elections will be held.

The military picked the army physician Wednesday to head the government. He has no prior political experience.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth, a grouping of former British colonies, is expected to suspend Fiji's membership when officials meet in London today.

Bainimarama had accused Mr. Qarase of corruption and complained that he was too soft on conspirators in Fiji's last coup in 2000.

The country's powerful council of tribal chiefs is refusing to recognize the military regime.

New Zealand and Australia have already imposed sanctions on Fiji, and the United States has suspended aid. Australian Prime Minister John Howard says the overthrow of democracy was "brutal" and "unlawful."

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, AP and AFP

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