30 Nov 2004

Fiji Government official says military wrong to fear more civil unrest

7:47 pm on 30 November 2004

A government official in Fiji says the military's concerns about another coup in the country are unfounded.

The chief executive officer of the Ministry of Justice, Sakiusa Rabuka, was commenting after the military warned of a return to the mayhem of 2000 if the Attorney General, Quoriniasi Bale, was not reigned in.

The warning followed an emergency meeting of senior military officers after Mr Bale's decision to release convicted vice president Ratu Jope Seniloli, just three and a half months into his four-year jail sentence.

But Mr Rabuka says Mr Bale was merely exercising his powers and fears of civil unrest are unrealistic.

"I think those people are exaggerating. I think it's totally wrong for them to be talking like that, and I think we should all know when to speak. I believe that what my minister did was within the law, nothing improper about it."

Mr Rabuka says all prisoners are entitled to certain benefits under the law and in Seniloli's case there was sufficient grounds for Mr Bale to exercise his discretion.