29 Nov 2004

Seniloli resigns as Fiji vice president after demands that he do so from the military

8:38 pm on 29 November 2004

Fiji's convicted vice president Ratu Jope Seniloli has resigned from office.

The resignation followed a day of meetings between President Iloilo, the prime minister Laisenia Qarase and Seniloli amid demands from the military that the vice president must go because his release was a threat to national security.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office says the resignation is effective from last Friday, the day Seniloli decided not to appeal his conviction and 4-year sentence in the Supreme Court and he was released.

The statement says after his resignation, Seniloli is entitled to a vice presidential pension from last Saturday, at 30% of his salary because he has served more than three years in the office.

Following the resignation, President Iloilo will recommend a name for the vice presidency, which if approved by the Great Council of Chiefs, will take up the office for the balance of Seniloli's term.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Labour Party has called on the government to rescind the Compulsory Supervision Order under which Seniloli was released and send him back to prison.

Labour president, Jokapeci Koroi, says it is a sad day for the country when the government has to succumb to criminals.

On attorney general Qoriniasi Bale's decision to release Seniloli on medical grounds, she says Labour has been informed that Seniloli does not suffer from any acute illness.

Mrs Koroi says Seniloli only has hypertension which is a common problem in Fiji and is also controllable.

Mrs Koroi is asking whether all other prisoners with similar health problems will be accorded the same privilege.