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US Imposes Sanctions on Fiji After Military Coup


The United States has imposed economic and military sanctions on the Pacific island of Fiji including a travel ban on the leaders of this month's military coup.

The State Department said Tuesday it is freezing more than $2 million in direct aid to Fiji. Senior military officials and leaders of the interim government will also be barred from traveling to the United States or attending U.S. sponsored events in other countries.

The State Department condemned the coup and says the sanctions will remain until President Bush or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice determines that a democratically-elected government has returned.

A military coup on December 5 drove Prime Minister Laisena Qarase and several other top officials from office. The coup leader, naval Commodore Frank Bainimarama, said the action was necessary to clean up what he called a corrupt government.

Commodore Bainimarama has turned down an invitation to attend a meeting with the island's Council of Grand Chiefs Wednesday. He says the invitation he received used his military title of "commodore" instead of "interim president." Fiji's chiefs have the power to appoint the president and vice president. They have not yet recognized the military government.