Fiji prime minister proposes changes to coup amnesty bill

Fiji prime minister proposes changes to coup amnesty bill

[JURIST] Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [official profile] said Wednesday that he plans to change controversial legislation that would grant amnesty to many involved in the 2000 racially-motivated coup [JURIST report]. The Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Unity bill [PDF text] has been the subject of many protests and has even caused military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama [official profile] to threaten to remove the government from office [BBC News report]. In the May 2000 coup, a group of armed men led by Fijian George Speight [BBC News backgrounder] held the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister and his government hostage for 56 days. Qarase, whose government is backed by ethnic Fijian nationalists – many of whom took part in or supported the coup, has faced much public resistance on the bill. Though he didn't provide specific details, Qarase said he would change the legislation to ensure that it complies with the constitution and does not threaten the judiciary's independence. AFP has more; Fiji Live has local coverage [registration required].