Top brass of the army held an emergency close door session yesterday to discuss the implications of government’s reconciliation Bill designed to grant a general pardon to those involved in the 2000 coup.
Commander Frank Bainimarama just returned form an overseas trip has made it clear that the army was unhappy with the intent of the Bill to grant amnesty to terrorists who took part in the 2000 coup.
The army’s opposition to the bill was conveyed to the Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi last week. Unofficial sources say that Ratu Joni advised the army to stay clear of politics.
The army is not alone in opposing the Bill. Political parties and civil society organisations such as the Fiji Law Society have warned on the implications of the Bill should it go through.
The Law Society is critical of the fact that people committing so-called political crimes could get away without having to pay the penalty for their actions. It will open up a whole can of worms, warned President Grahame Leung.
The main aim of the bill is to allow perpetrators of the 2000 coup to seek amnesty on the grounds that their action was political in nature and not criminal.
The Fiji Labour Party has denounced this as providing a green light for anyone wanting to stage a coup in the future.
The point was taken up by the Fiji Sun in its editorial today when it commented that the Bill would create further instability as it create the impression that it “is okay to illegally overthrow a democratically-elected government if it is not to their liking”.
It rightly asks, as does the Labour Party, whether the Bill is being put in place “to protect those that will be involved in the illegal removal of a new government that will come into power after next year’s polls?”
The FLP firmly believes that that is the true intention of Bill – to protect those who may resort to illegal action should the next general elections no go in their favour.