14 Jan 2005

Fiji government dismisses military concerns about pro-coup sentiment in community

7:37 am on 14 January 2005

The Fiji government has dismissed concerns voiced by the military that the release of political prisoners who could arouse anger among indigenous Fijians.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, says anger among supporters of the coup in areas where the prisoners come from has not subsided but only gone underground.

Captain Leweni says this is why the military is against the release from jail of the former vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli.

But government spokesman Mesake Koroi says that Seniloli's release was according to the law and months ago, and there have been no signs of consequent unrest in the community.

Mr Koroi says any community anxiety or threat perceived by the military is non-existant as far as the government is concerned.

"Oh I don't think there is any anger brewing within the indigenous community, and take it from me because I'm at the forefront of moving around the villages and telling people that the law must be allowed to take its own process, and that is what is a happening."

He says the justice system is independent and has been thorough to date in holding those involved in the coup accountable.

And I think if you look at the statistics and compare that with anywhere else in the world where coups have happened, Fiji's record is actually quite good phenomenal, it's quite good. So when he speaks of political interference, does he mean that there are certain elements within government at the moment who are interfering with the judiciary? I don't think that is quite correct.