23 Mar 2006

Fiji's Chaudhry tells PM that coup convicts have no place in government

2:16 pm on 23 March 2006

Fiji's opposition leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has rejected a claim by the prime minister that coup convicts in his government have the legal right to be MPs and ministers.

Laisenia Qarase told Radio Legend that coup convicts jailed for less than one year have the right to be elected to parliament and that others should not try to deny them their constitutional right.

But Mr Chaudhry has told the radio station that Section 156 of the Constitution dealing with the Code of Conduct of high office holders clearly disqualifies the people Mr Qarase is talking about.

Mr Chaudhry says anyone who does not conform to the Code of Conduct laid down for high office holders is disqualified from holding such office.

He says this applies to all the MPs, cabinet ministers and people who had a hand in the May 200 coup whom the government has sent abroad as diplomats.

Mr Chaudhry says one cannot have such people fighting elections in Fiji because it is in violation of accepted democratic principles.