20 Mar 2006

Fiji lawyer says proper process must be followed over army commander

3:29 pm on 20 March 2006

A Fiji lawyer has clarified comments he has made about the President being required to sack the Army Commander if asked to do so by the Home Affairs minister.

Richard Naidu says it's true that under Fiji law, the power to appoint generally includes the power to dismiss although there's some question as to whether that applies to the constitution.

And, he says it does appear that the president is required to act on the advice of the minister because the president cannot have any of his own deliberate judgement in the matter.

But, Mr Naidu says the minister can't decide on a whim to ask the president to sack the army commander as a disciplinary process needs to be followed.

"There's got to be an inquiry into his conduct. He's got to have a hearing and then a proper decision has got to be made about a) whether the commander is guilty of misconduct and b) what the appropriate penalty is."

Mr Naidu says the commander is entitled to natural justice just like anybody else so the proper procedure needs to be followed.

The comments come amid a long-running confrontation between the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the government, which is reported to have been attempting to sack him.