PARLIAMENTARY WALKOUT IN FIJI

SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 22, 2002 – Radio Australia/PIR)---Legislators walked out of Parliament Friday after opposition Fiji Labor Party MP Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi claimed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had prior knowledge about the May 2000 coup.

The coup toppled the government of Indo-Fijian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

Vayeshnoi presented no evidence to back up his claim.

Following the walkout, Parliament was sealed off, with police citing "security concerns."

The incident followed reports that lawyers for coup front man George Speight said they will initiate a request that he be pardoned. On Monday he was charged with treason and sentenced to death by hanging. Within hours, the sentence was commuted to life in prison.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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