Fiji ex-PM unable to make statement on treason charges against acting PM

Fiji ex-PM unable to make statement on treason charges against acting PM

[JURIST] Fiji's former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [BBC profile] said Friday that police have failed to take his statement [FijiVillage report] regarding treason allegations he has made against the country's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama [BBC profile]. Earlier this month, Qarase charged that Bainimarama and others who participated in a December 2006 military coup [JURIST news archive] had committed treason [Fiji Daily Post report] by ousting Qarase's democratically elected government. Fiji's police commissioner Esala Teleni has said that authorities will not investigate the charges [FijiVillage.com report], despite urging from a government integrity group [Fiji Daily Post report] and Fiji's Human Rights Commission [ABC report]. Qarase has also challenged the acting government's authority [ABC report] to make planned changes to the nation's charter, but Bainimarama has said that his government will not hold elections [FBCJ report] until the changes are approved. The South Asian Post has more.

In March, lawyers for the current government argued that the December military coup [JURIST report] was legal because Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo [official profile] had reserve powers permitting him to dismiss the government and appoint new leaders. Qarase brought suit [JURIST report] in October 2007, saying that the coup which ousted him was illegal and was orchestrated by the armed forces chief and current self-appointed prime minister. Less than two days after December's coup, a previous interim prime minister installed by the military characterized the coup as "illegal" [JURIST report], but defended it as necessary. That case was heard by a three-judge panel led by Acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, who was appointed [press release] after Bainimarama suspended former Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki [JURIST report].