6 Apr 2005

Fiji prime minister accused of setting bad precedent

8:12 am on 6 April 2005

Two former Fiji prime ministers have accused the incumbent, Laisenia Qarase, of setting a bad precedent in the case of the jailed lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

The Fiji Times says the accusation has come from Sitiveni Rabuka and Mahendra Chaudhry as Lalabalavu continues to hold his portfolio and be paid his salary despite being in prison.

Lalabalavu and government senator Ratu Josefa Dimuri were jailed for 8 months on Monday for their role in the Labasa army mutiny at the height of the 2000 coup.

Mr Chaudhry says although it is the prime minter's responsibility to see that the integrity of his government is maintained, Mr Qarase has no intention of adhering to the rule of law.

Mr Rabuka says any government which condones such things and continues to pay those jailed does not earn the respect of the people.

Mr Rabuka says that's the way Fiji has developed by not demanding that people do the right thing.

He says two ministers in his government (Apaitia Seru and Jo Nacola in the 1990s) who were accused of wrongdoing had resigned of their own accord.

Meanwhile, the former leader of the Fiji Democratic Party which has merged with the National Alliance, Filipe Bole, is asking how many more chiefs must be jailed before the present government is removed.