10 May 2005

Fiji public will have input in reconciliation bill

7:35 am on 10 May 2005

The Fiji public will have a say in legislation to set up the government's Reconciliation and Unity Commission which will recommend pardons for politically motivated crimes during the coup and award compensation to victims.

Radio Fiji says this has been revealed by the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

Mr Qarase says the public will have the opportunity to make submissions after the bill has been debated in parliament and goes to parliament's sector committee on law and order.

He has defended criticism of the timing of the bill which opponents say was aimed at attracting indigenous votes ahead of next year's general election.

Mr Qarase says if he had introduced the bill any earlier, a lot of people would have got the impression that the government was trying to interfere with the judicial process.

He says it is a difficult and sensitive bill and the government will have to face up to agreement and disagreement from the people.

The prime minister hopes to have the legislation enacted by the August sitting of parliament.