27 May 2005

Former Fiji Chief Justice tipped to head Reconciliation Commission

7:11 pm on 27 May 2005

A Fiji NGO says the country's former chief justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, is likely to be the chairman of the government's new Reconciliation and Unity Commission.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says it has been reliably informed that the government plans to appoint Sir Timoci once the relevant legislation is passed in parliament.

The CCF's executive director, the Rev Akuila Yabaki, says they had feared this would happen but thought it was too outrageous a possibility for the government to entertain.

This was because of Sir Timoci's role during the coup on advising the military on how to abrogate the Constitution and remove the late president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, from office.

The Rev Yabaki says many members of the public would regard Sir Timoci as biased and his membership of the commission would undermine whatever credit it might otherwise have.

But Sir Timoci is quoted as saying this is just speculation as he has not been approached to chair the commission.

Once set up, the commission will have powers to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and suspend court proceedings against those facing charges.