30 Apr 2003

Fiji government wants to tighten gun laws

6:27 am on 30 April 2003

A bill has gone before the Fiji parliament which makes it a criminal offence to use weapons in the overthrow of an elected government.

The bill also seeks to criminalise the possession of military type automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

The bill has been tabled by the minister for home affairs, Joketani Cokanasiga, who says current laws are archaic and need upgrading.

Mr Cokanasiga says present laws do not adequately address matters related to internal security and the use of weapons in violent robberies and disputes.

As well, he says the laws do not deal with the illegal import of arms and ammunition, especially military type weapons, and their use in the overthrow of governments.

Meanwhile, Radio FM-96 reports that police have begun collecting witness statements regarding the current vice-president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, assuming the presidency as a usurper after the May 2000 coup.

Ratu Jope then proceeded to swear in George Speight's failed and illegal administration.

A number of government ministers, MPs, senators and the deputy speaker of parliament are already facing serious charges for their roles in the coup.