14 Jun 2005

Fiji's former opposition leader astonished at PM's claim of support for Reconciliation Bill

9:27 am on 14 June 2005

Fiji's former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has expressed astonishment at the prime minister's claim that those opposing his Reconciliation and Unity Bill are a small minority.

Laisenia Qarase has dismissed the opposition from NGOs, civil society groups and prominent citizens as only the views of a small but noisy minority.

Mr Qarase says the Bill is the wish of the majority in parliament.

Mr Beddoes says all those opposed to the Bill must protest but they should do so peacefully.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum says Mr Qarase cannot claim to represent the majority when his SDL party won only 37 per cent of the votes in the last general election.

CCF official Jone Dakuvula says Mr Qarase can produce no evidence to support his claim that the majority support the Bill.

Mr Dakuvula says it should really be called the "NON RECONCILIATION, INTOLERANCE AND DISUNITY BILL" because of what he calls the overwhelming rejection of it by all sectors of informed and responsible society.

Meanwhile, the attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, says the coup front man, George Speight, will have to make full disclosure if he wants to apply for amnesty under the Bill.