25 Aug 2005

Fiji military again calls on government to withdraw draft amnesty law

9:44 am on 25 August 2005

Fiji's military has made a fresh call on the government to withdraw its controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The call follows attacks on the military by government senators in the Upper House, led by Senator Mohammed Apisai Tora, who as leader of the ultra-nationalist Taukei Movement led the agitation which preceded the 1987 and 2000 coups.

Mr Tora said the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, had been acting like a politician in opposing the Bill with the support of the Labour Party, the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Fiji Law Society and other NGOs.

But Commodore Bainimarama has told Radio Legend that the military should have the final say on the Reconciliation and Unity Bill as it was the institution which restored stability after the May 2000 coup.

Commodore Bainimarama says his soldiers died trying to protect Fiji from terrorists and their deaths should not be in vain.

He says the military will continue to insist that the Bill be withdrawn.

The Bill will set up a Commission to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, government MPs and army mutineers, erase their criminal records and give immunity to those not yet prosecuted.