26 Jul 2005

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs gags Labour party over Reconciliation Bill

8:43 am on 26 July 2005

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has rejected a request by the Labour Party to be allowed to speak on the government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill during its meeting this week.

The secretariat of the Council says the deputy opposition leader, Poseci Bune, had made the request but time constraints didn't permit it.

The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and the Concerned Citizens Group, both of which strongly oppose the Bill, will address the Great Council on

Thursday.

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has already received endorsement for his Bill from the 14 indigenous Fijian provincial councils.

The Great Council of Chiefs is one of the final bodies to be consulted before Mr Qarase takes the proposed legislation back to parliament.

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.