8 Jun 2005

New Zealand foreign minister says Fiji violence cannot be excused as political act

7:17 pm on 8 June 2005

The New Zealand foreign minister, Phil Goff, says he disagrees with a key aspect of a Fiji bill calling for amnesty for coup convicts who can prove that they had acted out of political motivation.

The bill is at the centre of controversy in Fiji where the opposition is boycotting its debate and unions are set to demonstrate.

The Fiji government says the bill is to reconcile the nation but critics say it will legalise coups.

Mr Goff says while New Zealand can encourage reconciliation, it is not possible to excuse violence.

"I don't think it is in any way a justification of those who use violence and force to overthrow a legitimate government to say they are doing it for political motives. that is no excuse and that's no justification."

Phil Goff