5 Feb 2003

Fiji Appeal Court hears CCF case against President Iloilo

9:07 am on 5 February 2003

The Fiji Court of Appeal has begun hearing a case brought by the Citizens Constitutional Forum which is challenging the legality of the actions of the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, in dismissing the prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, after the coup.

In an earlier hearing in the High Court, Justice Michael Scott had agreed that President Iloilo's action had not been consistent with the constitution, but justified it based on the doctrine of necessity.

But in the CCF's appeal, its Auckland-based lawyer, Stephen Kos, has told a panel of three overseas judges that parliament should have resumed after the 1997 Constitution was validated in March 2001 and a vote of no confidence in Mr Chaudhry sought.

Mr Kos said Mr Chaudhry did not resign willingly.

Instead Mr Chaudhry wrote a letter to the president asking him to reconvene parliament.

But Mr Kos said President Iloilo dismissed Mr Chaudhry and appointed Ratu Tevita Momoedonu as prime minister who then advised on a dissolution of parliament and resigned.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum is not seeking to overturn the decisions made in 2001 but wants the Appeal Court to rule on the legalities involved.