23 Jul 2004

Fiji minister denies law change plan over failed Bainimarama probe

1:45 pm on 23 July 2004

A key official in the Fiji government has denied reports that law changes are afoot to compel the president to act on the advice of the cabinet or a cabinet minister.

Radio Legend reports that the Commission of Inquiry Act will be amended following President Iloilo's rejection of a Government request for a commission of inquiry into Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

But Fiji's information minister, Simione Kaitani, says the government has accepted the president's decision and such suggestions are pure speculation.

"I'm not aware of any such official development at the moment. I believe it may have been still part of speculation that is going on."

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has reportedly said the current act is old and needs changing.

The government had requested an inquiry to look into allegations that Commodore Bainimarama plotted to overthrow the government if his term as commander was not renewed.

The allegations go back to last December when he was insisting on another term in office in order to continue with coup and mutiny prosecutions.

Fiji's constitution requires the president to act on the advice of the cabinet on most matters, but he is entitled to exercise his own judgment on others.