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Fiji Time: 10:49 AM on Friday 18 April

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Qarase disappointed with judgement

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Update: 5:55PM Ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is disappointed with the recent High Court decision dismissing his challenge, saying the decision will encourage future coups.

The Suva High Court this morning dismissed Mr Qarase's challenge on the legality of the interim regime and cemented the President's powers in times of emergency.

Mr Qarase said he was surprised and disappointed about the decision on the case.

He said the case had sought several declarations from the High Court relating to the military coup of December 5th, 2006 and other key actions taken by the interim regime after that date.

He said the decision amounted to a gross miscarriage of justice.

"The decision will encourage future coups, because all that the coup perpetrators need to do is to get the President to validate all illegal actions carried out during and after the coup," he said.

He also said justice no longer appears to be the business of Fiji's judicial system saying the judgement today has made a complete mockery of that system.

A panel of three judges Justice Anthony Gates, John Byrne and Divendra Pathik delivered the judgement stating the President's decision was to exercise prerogative powers to rule directly until elections could be conducted.

"No one has suggested His Excellence failed to act honestly, impartially, neutrally and what he gauged was in the best interest of the nation; that is, of all of the inhabitants of Fiji it is not for this court to inquire into the details of his act at that moment on whether one action would have been better done in another way but it is certainly open to conclude his intention were to unify the people of Fiji."

Meanwhile, interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the interim Government continues and is under direct Presidential rule until such time Fiji holds elections.

"I think the message should be to everybody, inside and outside Fiji that we actually have to move ahead with the Government that is in place. We need to move together to have elections in Fiji.

"In the meantime we need not be obstructionist but consolidate ourselves as a nation and of course as a region to ensure we have Parliamentary democracy in Fiji in time to come as determined by the President," he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added the prerogative powers are exercised by the Head of the State in very exceptional circumstances.

"That's when there is a dilemma and when those prerogative powers are exercised without any malice, without any ill intent, without any political expediency thats when the prerogative powers are exercised.

"It does not in any way indicate that we go running off to the President and therefore he will exercise his powers and the case laws demonstrate within the common law that how these prerogative powers can and only be exercised under those circumstances," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

View the full text of the High Court judgement in the case between Qarase and Bainimarama & others.