1 Jun 2005

Fiji military makes silent protest at parliament

10:33 am on 1 June 2005

29 senior Fiji military officers entered the public gallery of Fiji's parliament yesterday in a silent protest at the government's tabling of its Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

Fiji TV reports that the army and navy officers in full uniform were led by Commander Tevita Koroi of the navy.

The report says their presence was part of the military's strategy of publicly demonstrating its strong opposition to the Bill.

They left as soon as the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, had finished tabling the Bill.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni says the military officers were present to represent the commander, Commodore Bainimarama, and show their opposition to the Bill, and in particular its amnesty provisions for coup convicts.

The Fiji Times quotes Commodore Bainimarama as saying his officers were there to observe who would be speaking on the Bill and what they were saying.

Commodore Bainimarama says the military is briefing its officers on the contents of the Bill so they know what is expected of them.

Some government MPs including the minister for women, Adi Asenaca Caucau, said their presence was intimidating and the military was over-reacting.