22 Jun 2005

Fiji military refuses to be muzzled over reconciliation bill

7:31 pm on 22 June 2005

Fiji's military says it will only stop speaking publicly against the Reconciliation and Unity Bill when the government withdraws the proposed legislation.

The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has told Radio Legend people should also realise the military is speaking out against the Bill, not the government.

Commodore Bainimarama says the Bill, which contains provisions to grant amnesty to coup perpetrators and convicts, could have been discussed in the National Security Council meetings which are chaired by the prime minister.

But Commodore Bainimarama says he has not been invited to meetings of the National Security Council since 2002.

He says the military's views on national security need to be taken into account but the government does not seem to be listening to the concerns being raised.

He says the military's stand is clear that it does not want people who were involved in the 2000 coup to be released from prison or given amnesty.

Commodore Bainimarama says people supporting the Bill are the same ones who were involved in the takeover of parliament.

Meanwhile, the former prime minister and military commander, Sitiveni Rabuka, says Commodore Bainimarama has the right to speak on security issues because if anything happens , he would be answerable.

Major General Rabuka says Commodore Bainimarama has to speak now so there is no repetition of the May 2000 coup.