6 Apr 2005

Former Fiji prime minister Rabuka expects jailed minister to keep job

1:51 pm on 6 April 2005

A former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, says the attorney general is expected to advise the government to let the jailed lands minister retain his seat.

The Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, is seeking legal advice over the future of the Lands minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for his role in the 2000 coup.

Lalabalavu has kept his job and salary, despite his imprisonment, in a decision similar to other recent high-profile cases.

Mr Rabuka says he believes any minister convicted of such an offence should be sacked and have their salary and perks stopped.

"Because of the recent experiences we've had, it will be very difficult for the prime minister to regain the confidence of the people. However, that doesn't necessarily imply that will be reflected in the vote because most of our voters are emotionally inclined, and do not really pay too much attention to the legalities or illegalities of the various actions of the government."

Sitiveni Rabuka.

Meanwhile, Lalabalavu's family are seeking his early release on health grounds, as he's had heart by-pass operations recently.