Fiji military occupies central bank

April 14, 2009

, SUVA, Apr 14 – The governor of Fiji\’s central bank was dismissed Tuesday and the military has taken over the building, a senior bank official told AFP.

In the latest upheaval to hit the island nation, Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Savenaca Narube was told to vacate his office because his appointment was constitutional and Fiji no longer has a constitution, the official said on condition of anonymity.

President Josefa Iloilo scrapped the constitution on Friday to bypass an Appeal Court ruling that prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama had been in power illegally since the 2006 coup he led.

He also sacked all judges and judiciary officials before reappointing military chief Bainimarama and his cabinet for five more years.

There was no official confirmation of Narube\’s dismissal, but a statement from the central bank, that exchange controls had been tightened, was issued in the name of deputy governor Sada Reddy.

The deputy governor is not a constitutional appointment.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji is in the same building as the New Zealand High Commission (embassy) office, and a spokesman for the New Zealand foreign ministry said the commission staff were not under any threat.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said soldiers had entered the building and "people coming and going are being checked."

Earlier Tuesday, McCully raised the possibility of travel and trade bans on Fiji, and said people should think twice about visiting the popular South Pacific holiday destination.

New Zealand has condemned the latest upheaval in Fiji where courts and the public prosecutions office remained closed Tuesday because there was no one to staff them on the first working day after the Easter holiday break.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission was also shut because it was an office appointed under the constitution.

Under emergency regulations, the Fijian media is under orders only to publish positive stories about the political situation or risk being shut down, while foreign journalists face deportation.

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