4 Nov 2006

Fiji's prime minister drops amnesty provision in bill

12:47 pm on 4 November 2006

Fiji's prime minister Laisenia Qarase says he has dropped an amnesty bill for the perpetrators of a 2000 coup after threats by the military to remove him from office.

Mr Qarase says there is no longer an amnesty provision in the new bill and his move is a substantial change.

Military commander Frank Bainimarama had demanded the prime minister drop two proposed bills or be forced from office, including the truth and reconciliation bill which included the amnesty provision.

He believes Mr Qarase has been too lenient on the perpetrators of the May 2000 coup and a failed but bloody mutiny six months later.

Commodore Bainimarama arrives in the country today after visiting Fijian troops in the Middle East.

Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni says Commodore Bainimarama was driving back to the capital after touching down in the western city Nadi, and the military was unable to comment on the prime minister's announcement until he had returned to headquarters.