24 May 2006

Fiji government wants court to curb military

3:37 pm on 24 May 2006

Fiji's newly re-appointed minister for home affairs, Josefa Vosanibola, is to seek a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutional role of the military.

The military says its interpretation of the constitution makes it responsible for the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and its peoples.

But this has resulted in a long stand-off with the government which says the military should come under the jurisdiction of the minister of home affairs.

Mr Vosanibola says the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has long undermined him with his public outbursts and refused to come under his control.

He says they cannot have two governments and cannot to continue to tolerate what the commander is doing.

But the military has welcomed Mr Vosanibola's re-appointment.

Meanwhile, a military spokesman says he is pleased that the power sharing provisions in the 1997 constitution have now been put into practise.

There has been mixed reaction to Fiji's first multi-party cabinet formed in line with the power sharing provisions of the 1997 Constitution.

Prime minister Laisenia Qarase's has appointed a cabinet of 24 ministers including nine from the Labour Party as well as 12 ministers of state who are outside the cabinet.

The military spokesman, Captain Neumi Leweni, welcomes the establishment of the multi-party cabinet.

"its something that is happening in the country for the first time - and we are all waiting to see how it's going to work and only time will tell."

Captain Leweni says the move is a way forward for Fiji and creates a good symbol of peace for everyone.