19 Aug 2004

Fiji's attorney general reveals stance on vice-president's jailing

10:33 am on 19 August 2004

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says the Fiji attorney general has given unconstitutional advice to the Great Council of Chiefs on the position of the jailed vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli.

The CCF has shown Qoriniasi Bale's letter, written three days after Seniloli's jailing, to Fiji newspapers.

In it, Mr Bale tells the chairman of the chiefs council that the ideal situation is for Seniloli "to resign voluntarily, and a serious effort should be made to persuade him to take this course."

Mr Bale says should Seniloli "refuse to resign voluntarily until his appeal is finalised, the Great Council of Chiefs should after consultations with the prime minister, elect a person to act as vice president" until the appeal process is complete.

Me Bale also advised the chairman of the chiefs council to ask President Iloilo not to exercise his constitutional power to nominate a vice president with the approval of the council.

Mr Bale said after the appointment of an acting vice president, Seniloli would "have to give up the salary and benefits attached to the office of the vice president."

The CCF's executive director, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says the attorney general is recommending a political course of action that is unconstitutional and undermines the rule of law.

The Reverend Yabaki says the constitution gives President Iloilo the power to nominate a person to replace Seniloli.