The Prime Minister of Fiji has said he is under house arrest after heavily armed troops surrounded his residence in the capital, Suva. The Pacific archipelago is teetering on the brink of its fourth coup in 20 years. The President has dissolved Parliament and sanctioned the removal of Laisenia Qarase, who won a second five-year term in May.
Army chief Frank Bainimarama has repeatedly threatened to topple Qarase’s administration, claiming it is corrupt and too lenient on those reponsible for the island state’s last coup six years ago. It is feared further unrest could devastate the former British colony’s fragile economy, which is based on tourism and sugar.
Qarase has said he will not resign. New Zealand has condemned his reported removal as unconstitutional, while the Australian Prime Minister John Howard has refused to send troops to intervene in the situation. Britain, Australia and New Zealand have advised their citizens to avoid travel to the area.