25 Aug 2005

Fiji military dismisses GCC and Methodist support for reconciliation bill

4:11 pm on 25 August 2005

Fiji's military commander has dismissed support for the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill from the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told Radio Legend that many Methodist Church preachers and Great Council of Chiefs members supported George Speight during the May 2000 coup.

He says it is obvious they will back the Bill, which will see the coup perpetrators walk free.

Commodore Bainimarama many members of the Great Council of Chiefs had supported Speight's agenda so they could get high positions at the end of the day.

Similarly, he says many Methodist preachers had propagated Speight's ideals from the pulpit.

Commodore Bainimarama says more than 400 villages around Fiji visited by military teams had opposed the Bill after they were told of its consequences and implications.

He made the comments as the military made a fresh call on the government to withdraw the Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

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.