ANGER IN FIJI DESPITE LEADER’S RESIGNATION

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 30) – The resignation of Fiji Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli has failed to quell anger among opposition leaders over his early release from prison last week.

Ratu Jope had served just three months of a four-year jail term for his role in a failed 2000 coup.

Fijian opposition leader Mahendra Chaudhry says his release has undermined democracy and the rule of law in Fiji.

He says, however, that Ratu Jope's resignation is welcome and "long overdue".

The President of the Fiji Law Society, Graeme Leung, has also criticized Ratu Jope's early release.

"It lends the appearance of two sets of rules, or two classes of justice. It lends the appearance that if you're well connected and of a high social standing, you might expect more favor with the authorities. Conversely, if you are a person of lesser social standing, you might expect the full brunt of the law to weigh on you. Now that seems to me to be a travesty," Mr Leung said.

Attorney-General Qoriniasi Bale ordered Ratu Jope's release on unspecified health grounds, a move that infuriated top officers in the Fiji Military Forces that helped negotiate an end to the 2000 coup.

December 1, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

 

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