18 Apr 2007

Fiji GCC lawyer views interim government as illegal

3:37 pm on 18 April 2007

A New Zealand lawyer is reported to have told Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs that accepting President Iloilo's nomination for a vice president would mean that the chiefs accept the current interim administration.

The Daily Post says Janet Mason of the New Zealand law firm Pacific Law told the chiefs that the current administration is illegal and that any decision to support it would mean contradicting the resolutions the chiefs took in December.

Ms Mason told the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Ovini Bokini, that the the appointment of the interim administration was illegal and had no justification in law.

She said if the chiefs decided to support someone who was involved with the interim administration, that support would be inconsistent with their December resolutions.

The resolutions had condemned the overthrow of the democratically elected government and reaffirmed the chiefs' support for democracy and the rule of law.

Ms Mason said her view that the interim administration and its actions were illegal were shared by commentators in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States and lawyers both within and outside Fiji.

The interim prime minister appointed after the coup, Jona Senilagakali, also said the overthrow of the government was illegal.

But he added at the time that the coup was to clean up the mess of a much bigger illegal activity of the previous government,

Ms Mason says the interim government will remain illegal until democratic elections are held or until Laisenia Qarase resigns and a majority of the elected members of parliament are able to are able to form a workable interim caretaker government.