President forceful at Fiji parliamentary opening
Fiji's President makes forceful comments on sedition allegations as new parliamentary session begins.
The Fiji Parliamentary session resumed yesterday with a ceremony filled with pomp in the capital, Suva.
In his opening speech, Fiji's President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau called for the country to rally to the defence of democracy.
Sally Round is in Suva.
SALLY ROUND: It was a very forceful address from Fiji's head of state and he warned that any attempt to overturn the government before the next election, which is due in 2018, would be subject to the full force of the law. It seems that his speech was mainly directed at these alleged attempts to set up a breakaway christian state. There are dozens of people facing court charges. Ratu Epeli described the alleged actions as an insult to democracy and called on people to condemn them.
DON WISEMAN: Did he indicate at all that the parliament is going to be looking at other measures with regards to these sedition allegations?
SR: So Ratu Epeli was definite in the role of the military here. He in fact is Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Military Forces. He says he believes that the RFMF must wherever and whenever support the police in bringing to justice those who want to destroy democracy and impose their will on others.
DW: Now he also talked about concerns he's got about the division that there was in the last session of parliament.
SR: Yes the president said he was saddened by divisions in parliament over the last session and he wanted the tone to be raised and for the parliament to be focussed on a battle of ideas with the national interest in mind.
DW: What sort of reaction was there from the politicians from this speech?
SR: I spoke to a number of them afterwards and one of members of the opposition National Federation Party said that she was actually very happy at the speech because as it was given by the president who is also the commander-in-chief of the military she felt the military would also be listening. She wants to see this parliament go right through until the election, in other words no more coups. Another politician said he felt that it was a very surprising speech and that the government must have something to fear for the president to come out so forcefully.
Sally Round in Suva, speaking to Don Wiseman.
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