20 Oct 2006

Fiji's supreme court to define miltary's role and responsibilities

11:47 am on 20 October 2006

Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, has endorsed the government's request that the Supreme Court be asked to define the military's role and responsibilities under the constitution.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has confirmed that the president has given his assent and the state law office has begun preparing legal papers which will go to the Supreme Court.

The latest development comes after yet another stand-off between the military and the government in which the military commander has called on the government to remove two controversial legislative bills or resign within three weeks.

The president's endorsement comes after he had stalled on two previous government requests for a Supreme Court ruling in favour of settling the differences between the two parties through dialogue.

Mr Qarase says all state and private lawyers who have been consulted agree that the Commodore Bainimarama's interpretation of the military's constitutional role and responsibilities is wrong.

The next sitting of the Supreme Court is due to take place in May next year.

Commodore Bainimarama has been quoted as saying he will not be intimidated by the Supreme Court referral.