28 Apr 2004

Fiji chief says army should make a traditional apology for removing former President from office

8:06 am on 28 April 2004

There's been a call on the Fiji military to make a traditional apology for the removal of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara from the presidency during the May 2000 coup.

The Fiji Sun reports that the call comes from the leader of the pro-coup Conservative Alliance Party and lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Ratu Naiqama, who also holds the chiefly title of Tui Cakau, says it would be better for the military to make the traditional apology on behalf of the commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Ratu Naiqama says Commodore Bainimarama was wrongly advised by the military government's "think tank."

He says the military has done a lot to restore law and order and bring about stability, but the restoration of the 1997 Constitution by the Appeal Court had made the removal of Ratu Mara from the presidency illegal.

Commodore Bainimarama has just returned from Hawaii and was not available for comment but his spokesman, Captain Ned Taito, says the military would not react to a political statement.

Meanwhile, Ratu Mara's casket will be transferred from Suva Private Hospital this morning to lie in state at Government House so people can pay their last respects.