30 Aug 2007

One of the architects of Fiji constitution mystified by claim coup did not happen

7:30 pm on 30 August 2007

The man who helped write Fiji's constitution says it gives no provision for allowing the president to remove a democratically elected government.

A report by Fiji's Human Rights Commission into the military overthrow of the Qarase government last December states that the President acted within his sovereign powers in December 2006 by removing a Prime Minister who was acting against the constitution.

The report, which is written by the commission director Dr Shaista Shameem, states that the events cannot be defined as a coup as they were the actions of a President exercising his rights under section 86 of the constitution.

But Dr Brij Lal from the Australian National University says her interpretation of the constutition is confusing.

"I don't know how she reads that particular section. That particular section simply says the President is the head of state and symbolises the unity of the state. That's all that that section says so how she interprets that to justify the coup is beyond me. By any definition it was a military coup against a democratically elected government."