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Wanted: Fiji Cabinet members. Apply within

Published December 10, 2006


SUVA, Fiji - Fiji's coup leader ran ads in local newspapers Saturday to fill vacant Cabinet jobs, trying to piece together a new government for the South Pacific country.

Army chief Frank Bainimarama has removed a swath of senior civil servants, including top police officers, saying he is weeding out corruption entrenched in the administration of ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

"Applicants must be of outstanding character and without any criminal records," the advertisements noted, asking aspirants to submit applications at military headquarters by Tuesday.

"The deadline indicates the urgency in trying to get qualified people in to help in the running of the affairs of the state," said Maj. Neumi Leweni, a military spokesman. He said the posts of finance and foreign affairs minister would not be advertised.

Bainimarama's handpicked interim leader, Maj. Jona Senilagakali, took over the prime minister's office Friday, arriving with an armed military guard.

Some top government officials have been reappointed, the Fiji Times reported, including the chief executive officers for tourism and agriculture.

Bainimarama seized power Tuesday and declared himself president. He has received signs of support from a key opposition leader and the country's powerful tribal chiefs, but has faced a wave of international repudiation.

The 53-nation British Commonwealth suspended Fiji on Friday, a decision Leweni said had been expected. It was the third time in 20 years that the Commonwealth suspended the country following a coup.

The coup was the culmination of an impasse between Bainimarama and Qarase over legislation offering pardons to conspirators in a 2000 coup and handing lucrative coastal land ownership to indigenous Fijians. Bainimarama said the bills were racist.

[Last modified December 10, 2006, 01:17:03]

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