10 Feb 2006

Fiji pro-coup party says bill delay ends freedom hopes for coup frontman

8:25 am on 10 February 2006

A report from Fiji says the shelving of the controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill has ended the coup front man, George Speight's hopes of an early release.

The Fiji Sun quotes an official of the pro-coup Conservative Alliance party, Ropate Sivo, as saying that it was through Speight and the soldiers of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit that the Qarase government came into power.

Mr Sivo says "all those heroes in jail from George Speight down have had their hopes of freedom dashed."

The former Conservative Alliance secretary says "the government is scared of the international community and is willing to betray the trust of the common Fijian people."

Mr Sivo says the shelving of the Reconciliation and Unity Bill is "an insult to their chiefs and people who took part and supported the fight for the indigenous cause."

But The Sun says other Conservative Alliance members are still optimistic that the Bill will become law.

The lands minister and Speight's brother, Samisoni Tikonisau, says the Bill was introduced in the House and they are hopeful it will go through the normal process.

The Conservative Alliance president, Ratu Tanoa Visowaqa, says he also hopes the Bill will come through.

The New Nationalist Party leader, Saula Telawa, says the prime minister has failed the Fijian people over the Reconciliation and Unity Bill and should step down.