Military has taken control of Fiji, says commander

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Fiji's military commander said today he has taken control of the country from the elected government.

"The military has taken over the government... executive authority and the running of this country," Commodore Frank Bainimarama told a news conference. He said he has dismissed the prime minister Laisenia Qarase, and appointed an interim replacement

Fiji's elected leader said earlier today that he was powerless to stop a military takeover under way in his South Pacific country, but vowed he would not bow to a demand that he resign so an incoming administration could claim a strand of legitimacy.

Armed troops surrounded Mr Qarase's house this morning, entering briefly to take his car keys before blocking streets outside with tyre-bursting spikes.

Soldiers manned check points at government buildings and other points throughout the capital, Suva.

"My impression is that I am under house arrest," Mr Qarase told national radio network Legend.

"What happens next in anybody's guess."

Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the military commander who has been threatening to "clean up" Qarase's government for weeks, met briefly with president Ratu Josefa Iloilo this morning but was otherwise unseen. He has demanded Qarase quit so he could appoint an interim government, something Qarase again refused to do.

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