24 Mar 2003

Fiji opposition leader calls on deputy speaker of parliament to step down

4:24 pm on 24 March 2003

The leader of Fiji's opposition, Mick Beddoes says the deputy speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, should step down from his position after being arrested on serious coup related charges.

Mr Beddoes says there is a need for an independent inquiry so that all who are implicated in the coup can be brought before the courts and cleared of the charges or prosecuted accordingly.

He says in the meantime anyone facing allegations, whether innocent or not, is perceived as guilty by association, which compromises the office they hold.

"So I think it's important that the whole due process is conducted as quickly as possible once a person has been charged I think the proper way in which we should be conducting ourselves is they should be stood down from whatever position they have until such time as their individual position is then clarified so as to avoid any suggestion of tampering with witnesses or whatever the case may be."

Mick Beddoes.