10 Jun 2003

Fiji minister charged with coup offences offers to resign

10:12 am on 10 June 2003

A Fiji government minister charged with serious coup related offences say he will resign from the cabinet if asked to do so by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

The sports minister, Isireli Leweniqila, will appear in court tomorrow charged with one count of taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence and another of engaging in a seditious enterprise.

Also in court with him, charged with the same offences, will be the vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, the deputy speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, and three others.

Mr Leweniqila has told the Daily Post newspaper that if the prime minister tells him to step down because of his court appearance, he will do so.

He says this will strengthen the ties between his Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party and the prime minister and his SDL government.

Mr Leweniqila says he has no regrets about joining Speight's failed administration at the time of the coup because it was something he had to do.