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Exiled former Fiji premier returns, offers to work with military government

Exiled former Fiji premier returns, offers to work with military government

Fiji's ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase returned to the nation's capital Saturday after eight months in exile, offering to work with the military regime that turned him out of office.
Qarase arrived back in the capital, Suva, on a charter flight from the northern Fiji island of Vanuabalavu where he fled after being ousted in an armed coup On Dec. 5. He was greeted by family and some supporters.
Accused of corruption by coup leader and self-appointed premier, military head Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Qarase surprised observers by offering to work with the military boss.
"I will offer my services to the interim government, in particular to the interim prime minister ... (as) all of us citizens of Fiji, who love this place, should really get together and try and move our country forward," he told reporters.
Qarase said the time for confrontation was over and he will now try to work with Bainimarama.
Earlier, he reported receiving deaths threats if he returned to the capital.
There was no immediate response from the military regime to Qarase's offer.
Qarase returned to Suva to pursue a High Court challenge to the legality of the military regime, but also faces court action by the military-led government.
Fiji's interim attorney general has filed papers in the High Court seeking 14 declarations against the former premier and his home affairs minister, Josefa Vosanibola.
The papers claim the pair breached the South Pacific nation's constitution by failing to keep President Ratu Josefa Iloilo informed of matters relating to Fiji's governance in the days leading up to the Dec. 5 military takeover.
These include failing to inform the president of a request for military intervention Qarase allegedly made to Australia and failing to inform him eight Australian commandos had been allowed to enter Fiji without immigration and customs clearance.
The action is a counter to Qarase's challenge to the legality of the military coup against his democratic government.