19 Jul 2005

Fiji military commander to talk to Great Council of Chiefs about the reconciliation bill

9:45 am on 19 July 2005

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has invited Commodore Bainimarama to present the military's stand on the Reconciliation and Unity Bill when it meets next week.

Radio Legend reports that Commodore Bainimarama has confirmed accepting the invitation.

Commodore Bainimarama says he will give many reasons to the chiefs why they should not endorse the Bill.

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

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Great Council, Ratu Ovini Bokini says the government will present the Fijian language version of the Bill to the chiefs next week.

Ratu Ovini says the views of the chiefs from the 14 indigenous Fijian provinces will be taken into account before a vote is taken.

He says they are yet to decide whether NGOs and the Fiji Law Society will be asked to give their views to the Great Council.

This week Commodore Bainimarama was quoted as saying that most of the provincial chiefs who have been backing the Bill were the same people who were involved in or supported the Speight coup in 2000.