27 Jun 2005

Fiji attorney general denies president backs military in bill row

4:11 pm on 27 June 2005

Fiji's Attorney General has denied that the president's backing the military in its standoff with the government over the controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Fiji Times reports that those close to the Prime Minister tried to depose Ratu Josefa in 2000 but the move was thwarted by the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

The report says the military commander later told the president about the plot and this might partly explain why he's backing the army's opposition to the Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Attorney General, Qoriniasi Bale says the claims are being driven by the government's opponents.

"No, that is a dimension which is news to me. The president is the head of state, he symbolises unity in Fiji. I do not believe that he would take sides with any group, particularly on political issues."

Mr Bale has also denied rumours that the president's asked the Prime Minister to withdraw the bill.