29 Jul 2005

Reconciliation Bill opponents fail to persuade Great Council of Chiefs to reject it

10:30 am on 29 July 2005

Fiji's military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, says he feels betrayed by the decision of the Great Council of Chiefs to endorse the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Fiji Sun quotes Commodore Bainimarama as saying that after he had spoken against the Bill to the Great Council yesterday, some chiefs had assured him that he had their support.

He says he really thought the military and five other groups who opposed the Bill had won the hearts of the chiefs but their decision says otherwise.

The Rev Akuila Yabaki of the Citizens Constitutional Forum says the fight against the Reconciliation and Unity Bill will continue despite the decision by the Great Council of Chiefs.

The Rev Yabaki says the chiefs' decision is a compromise because they have asked the government to note the concerns of the opponents.

Mrs Suliana Siwatibau, who leads the Concerned Mothers Group Against the Bill, says they will continue their fight because the Great Council of Chiefs is not the government.

Mrs Siwatibau says the Bill is not just and right and they will do whatever they can to fight it.

The Bill will set up a Commission to fast track amnesty for coup convicts like Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.