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International brief ~ Fiji army threatens coup over rebel amnesty bill

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, following a statement by military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama [official profile], head of Fiji's military forces, that the army "will have no qualms about removing a government that will bring back chaos," Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [official profile] said that the Fiji government [official website] would reconsider provisions of the Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill [official PDF text] that would have granted amnesty to participants in the attempted 2000 coup led by George Speight [Wikipedia profile]. Speight, currently serving a term of life incarceration for treason, would have been able to apply to have his case reviewed under the current working of the bill, and if his actions were deemed political instead of criminal, he would have been granted amnesty. Qarase was installed as interim leader after the military suppressed the attempted coup, and was elected in 2002 in national elections as Prime Minister. He has been a strong proponent for reconciliation, but has faced increasing public resistance over the specifics of the bill to be presented to the Fiji Parliament [government website]. The Fiji Times has local coverage.

In other international legal news ...

  • The Ugandan Parliament [government website] voted overwhelmingly in favor of the third Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2005 which included a clause to remove the current constitutional term limits [constitution Chapter 7 text] placed on the Ugandan presidency. The removal of the term limits will allow current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [official profile] to run for a third term in 2006, as well as any future terms he wishes too, as the clause simply removed all limits on reelection, rather than expanding the number of allowed terms. Opponents of the clause's inclusion argued that Uganda, among many other African nations, had not truly transitioned to democratic government in light of the state's manipulation of electoral processes. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Uganda [JURIST news archive]. Uganda's Monitor has local coverage.

  • The Ethiopian government [DC embassy website] has defended its criminal prosecution of at least eight different local newspaper editors as part of "upholding the law of the land" and denied charges made by international media group Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website] that it was conducting a "crack-down" on media rights. Ethiopian officials said that all of the editors charged violated Ethiopia's journalism laws and were not being prosecuted for their published criticisms of the government's conduct in the heavily disputed May 15 parliamentary elections. Read the CPJ press release alleging government misconduct. IRIN has more.

  • Nepalese Vice-Chairman of Council of Ministers Kirtinidhi Bista [Katmandu Online profile] has reiterated the position of the Nepalese government that outside help is not needed in resolving the country's current political and military problems. Bista spoke to the press following a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi, and told reporters that Nepal would not accept help from the United Nations in resolving the alleged political crisis that exists folloing the abolition of the elected government [JURIST report] by King Gyanedra [official profile] and the military conflict between the government and Maoist rebels. International and domestic rights groups have continually requested support and intervention from the UN and other international bodies, but the Nepalese government has maintained that it is competent to handle its own internal affairs. The UN must have permission from member-states before it can intervene in internal situations unless the UN Security Council finds that the situation is a threat to international peace and security. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Nepal [JURIST news archive]. Nepal News has local coverage.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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