11 Jun 2007

Fiji's ousted vice president says military's insistence its action are constitutional are absurd

3:23 pm on 11 June 2007

The ousted Fiji vice president, Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi, says the military and interim regime's continued insistence that their actions are within the constitution are absurd.

As well, Ratu Joni says in hindsight, the military and the interim government's legal advisers, including those in the shadows behind the attorney general, would have been better advised to have abrogated the constitution.

Ratu Jone was speaking at a workshop about the Fiji Coup Six Months On at the Australian National University in Canberra.

He said the legal gymnastics one is obliged to perform, all the while chanting the Constitution is intact, would test a contortionist.

Ratu Joni said the dilemma is that the legal apologists and their collaborators in the military wished to depart from the Constitution without breaching it.

He said they are still continuing in their Alice in Wonderland journey.

In the meantime, Ratu Joni said, the courts are continuing to operate normally in trying criminal and civil cases, and coming under siege as well.

He said the acting chief justice was appointed in dubious circumstances by an improperly constituted Judicial Services Commission which continues to make appointments despite the fact that its status may well be suspect.

Ratu Joni, a former High Court judge, said it is a very untidy state of affairs with little prospect of early resolution.

He said the president interim government may well acquire legitimacy in the courts through the doctrine of acquiescence, but it would have established a new legal order in the process.