5 Oct 2004

Fiji military commander criticises forgiveness ceremony

8:30 am on 5 October 2004

Fiji's military commander has criticised yesterday's government organised forgiveness-seeking ceremony by the coup perpetrators, describing it as superficial and meaningless.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told the Daily Post newspaper that the forgiveness ceremony, known as matanigasau, shouldn't have been included in the reconciliation programme because that should only be performed to the people who were wronged.

Commodore Bainimarama says he's concerned that the national security forces may face problems in maintaining law and order in rural areas during coup-related trials in the future, after people witnessed the forgiveness ceremony.

He says some of them may hold the view that there was no longer any need to go to the courts for the wrongs that he alleges they did in 2000.

Commodore Bainimarama says he fully supports the reconciliation exercise, but not a forgiveness ceremony when those who were hurt in 2000 remain hurt.

He says the nation can achieve national reconciliation only if the rule of law is upheld and those who did wrong are brought to justice.

Commodore Bainimarama says until people accept that what happened in 2000 was illegal and morally wrong, there can be no genuine reconciliation in Fiji.