9 Nov 2006

Fiji chiefs call on army commander in latest attempt to resolve impasse

5:57 pm on 9 November 2006

A delegation from Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs is at the army barracks to ask the army commander, Commander Frank Bainimarama, to address a meeting of the GCC tomorrow.

The commander had declined to appear at its special session held today in an effort to resolve the impasse between the military and the government of prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

Mr Qarase did appear at the GCC meeting and informed the chiefs that the controversial amnesty clause in the Reconciliation Bill has been dropped.

He says the bill's purpose now will be to set up a Reconciliation Commission but it will not have the power to grant amnesties as had been first proposed.

The government is not, however, withdrawing either the QoliQoli bill or the proposal to set up a Land Claims Tribunal, as Commodore Bainimarama is demanding.

Mr Qarase says they have widespread support among indigenous Fijians and he feels strongly that it's wrong to ignore the pleas over historical grievances.

The prime minister, is however, promising extensive reviews of the bills before revised versions are presented to parliament.

Mr Qarase also says the government is not point scoring in taking a case to the Supreme Court to establish the military's constitutional & statutory role.

As a member of the GCC, the prime minister is expected to attend tomorrow's special session.