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Fiji Chiefs May Ask Ousted Prime Minister to Officially Step Down

The members of Fiji's powerful Great Council of Chiefs are considering a proposal to ask the island's ousted prime minister to step down to help clear the way back to democracy.

A draft resolution of the plan, presented to the media Thursday, says the former government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has been rendered ineffective and incapable. The chiefs also said they do not have any power to grant immunity to the military for the coup that removed Mr. Qarase from office.

The chiefs' resolution says an interim government should consider the question of immunity for military leaders as well as allegations of the former administration's corruption.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama launched the military coup on December 5 to clean up what he called a corrupt government.

The chiefs support a proposal put forward by Bainimarama that Ratu Josefa Iloilo be reinstated as president. But the resolution suggests that a 10-member council be formed to advise the president on forming an interim government.

The advisory council would include members of the military, grand chiefs and members of Fiji's political parties.

The tribal chiefs will meet again Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.