Former Fiji prime minister Qarase dies


Suva (Fiji) (AFP)

Former Fiji prime minister Laisenia Qarase, who was installed as leader following one coup attempt and overthrown by another, died Tuesday aged 79, a family spokesman said.

The founder of the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party, who served as Fiji’s sixth prime minister from 2000 to 2006, died in hospital after a short illness.

Qarase passed away at the Oceania Hospital in Suva early Tuesday, family spokesman Mesake Koroi told AFP.

He was a career civil servant who was appointed prime minister in 2000 after the military quashed a coup by failed businessman George Speight that had removed the government of Mahendra Chaudhry.

Qarase was a champion of indigenous Fijians and won two elections without gaining any significant support from the Indo-Fijian population.

In 2006, he was removed from power in a military coup led by Frank Bainimarama and later imprisoned on corruption charges.