2 May 2003

CCF says Fiji PM's statements could be harmful

4:04 pm on 2 May 2003

Fiji's Citizens Constitutional Forum says the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, should not interfere in the legal process by expressing full support for the deputy speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

Ratu Rakuita is facing court charges arising from his actions during the coup, and has been barred from practising law for life because he was sworn in as attorney general in George Speight's failed administration.

Mr Qarase said this week all government members had full confidence in Ratu Rakuita despite calls for him to step down as deputy speaker.

The executive director of the CCF, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says Mr Qarase's comments may be based on the innocent-until-proven-guilty premise but they're potentially harmful to the government all the same.

"If the prime minister is giving support to Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure he has to face up to the fact that if he is indeed convicted then he has to answer as well. That comment cannot curtail the legal process. His government has to support the legal process. If someone is charge then that's it - he may have to withdraw that support."

The CCF's Rev Akuila Yabaki.