29 Sep 2006

Fiji AG tells military to leave PSC alone

4:21 pm on 29 September 2006

Fiji's attorney general says the military should not be interfering in the appointment of the country's next commissioner of prisons.

Qoriniasi Bale, who is the minister responsible for prisons, made the comment after the military condemned the Pubic Service Commission for shortlisting an army officer facing mutiny charges.

Lt Col Jone Baledrokadroka is appearing before a court martial next month for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the military commander, Frank Bainimarama, in January this year.

The PSC says Lt Col Baledrokadroka is innocent until proven guilty, but the military fears he is a major threat to Fiji's security.

The Attorney General says the commission should be left to exercise its discretion.

"The constitutional authority for making that appointment is with the Public Service Commission, and it is not with the commander-in-chief, or anybody else."

Mr Bale says he has not been consulted on the matter, nor should he be.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Labour Party says the government must intervene to stop any such appointment.

The labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the PSC's decision is outrageous and the military has every right to condemn it.

The government must act responsibly and not dodge its responsibilitIes by merely quoting what the law is.

Mr Chaudhry says it would be better if the commission wasn't involved.