8 Apr 2009

Fiji coup appeal case may lead to tougher military stance

2:15 pm on 8 April 2009

A Pacific academic says a Court of Appeal case questioning the legitimacy of the government in Fiji could push the interim regime to take an even more hardline stand.

The ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is appealing last year's court ruling which legitimised the 2006 military coup.

The Australian National University's Jonathan Fraenkel says if the Court of Appeal overturns that ruling it would effectively mean that the interim regime has no legal standing.

He says it would then be up to those close to the interim government to advise it to move back towards constitutional democracy.

But he doubts whether the advice would be followed.

"The interim government may well respond by abrogating the constitution and trying to introduce an even more hardline regime. We have seen military officers occupying more and more positions at the top of government. The signs are very worrying. It's very important that all those with wise counsel on the situation in Fiji put pressure on those around the military council, around the interim government to call it quits."

Jonathan Fraenkel of the Australian National University