10 Jan 2006

Civil society group says Fiji military threat understandable

2:05 pm on 10 January 2006

The Citizens' Constitutional Forum in Fiji says it understands where the military commander was coming from, when he explained his grievances before threatening to take over the government.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says the government's policies are hurting the general populace and are so divisive that they've ended up taking away people's rights and freedom.

The Forum's director, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says he doesn't condone the statement, but the government indeed has a track record of injuring people's rights.

Reverend Yabaki uses the example of the farmer Chandrika Prasad, who successfully challenged the abrogation of the 1997 constitution.

"This government has refused to abide by the court of appeal ruling on the Chandrika Prasad court case in March 2001, which was a landmark decision, for the restitution of the constitution and the return of the elected government which was overthrown by George Speight's gang."

Reverend Yabaki says the government also disobeyed court rulings in 2002 and 2003 on forming a multiparty administration.

He describes one supreme court ruling as co-operative, because it would protect the prime minister who formed a multiparty cabinet.