21 Jun 2005

Fiji's President backed by chiefs in spat with government over military commander

7:46 pm on 21 June 2005

Fiji's President is being supported by the Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs in his actions concerning the military commander.

The Fiji government has been angered by the public comments made by the commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, in opposition to the Reconcilation Bill.

Local reports say the government believes the President, as Commander in Chief of the Military, should follow Cabinet or Ministerial advice and discipline the Commodore.

The Chairman of the Great Council of chiefs, Ratu Ovini Bokini, says the President is doing his part.

But lawyer, Richard Naidu, says problems do arise when heads of state are mainly titular:

"He is like the queen, he acts on advice and the underlying assumption is that if cabinet or a particular minister advises the president to act, he acts. There are only limited circumstances prescribed by the constituion when the president has to act on his own deliberate judgement."

Lawyer, Richard Naidu