SUVA, Fiji — The new military government of Fiji showed its first signs of unraveling, as the leader of Thursday's coup and the island's respected governor general Monday night worked to forge a face-saving compromise that could end the army takeover.
Governor General Ratu Penaia Ganilau told the nation in a radio address Monday night that the military leaders agreed that he could act as Fiji's chief executive. He added that his first order was to tell the regime "to dismantle its organization as soon as it is possible to assure public order," to restore press freedom, to release all arrested persons--including ousted Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra and his Cabinet--and "to withdraw to barracks all armed personnel not required for the maintenance of public security."
In an earlier broadcast, Ganilau told the people to stay calm and said, "I'm conducting discussions with the military government, and I am resolved to protect your best interest." He said later: "While these difficult discussions are in progress, my message as the leader of your nation, to you my fellow citizens, is be calm, keep the peace and retain your faith."
In a separate news release after Ganilau's radio speech, military authorities announced that the coup's leader, Lt. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka, had been sworn in by the governor general as chairman of the army-led council of ministers.