24 Mar 2006

Fiji military believes legal opinion sought from NZ because of row with government

1:18 pm on 24 March 2006

Fiji's military believes the vice president sought a legal opinion from New Zealand on the army's constitutional role because of the stand-off between the two parties.

A senior military spokesman, Lt Col Orisi Rabukawaqa, says the advice sought by Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi via the New Zealand government is irrelevant.

Lt Col Rabukawaqa the opinion contradicts their own interpretation of the constitution, which makes it the final guarantor of security, defence and well-being of Fiji and its people.

He says that the military is under no obligation to follow it.

"That's an opinion, an external opinion basically on the sovereignty of another country, which in this case is Fiji,"

The New Zealand opinion is based on the view that the 1997 constitution repealed the 1990 constitution, which made the military responsible for the well-being of Fiji and its people.

Lt Col Rabukawaqa says only the Supreme Court can give a definitive ruling on the matter.