6 Jun 2005

Fiji Government makes a controversial appointment as new chair of justice, law and order committee

7:17 pm on 6 June 2005

A Fiji government MP who had demanded the pardon of all those involved in the 2000 coup is the new chairman of the parliamentary sector committee on Justice, Law and Order.

Manasa Tugia of the Conservative Alliance party succeeds Ratu Rakuita Vakalabure who is serving a 6-year jail sentence for taking an illegal oath purporting to become the attorney general in George Speight's failed administration during the coup.

In April this year when the lands portfolio became vacant on the jailing of Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Mr Tugia was reported to have refused to take it up after putting a series of demands on the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

Among these demands was that all those involved in the 2000 coup be pardoned.

Mr Tugia was appointed chairman in the absence of Labour Party members of the Justice, Law and Order Committee who are boycotting it as it begins seeking submissions on the controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The Bill will fast track amnesty for coup convicts like George Speight, erase their criminal records, give immunity to those not yet prosecuted and can ask the courts to suspend proceedings against those facing charges.