Fiji Time: 6:38 PM on Monday 22 December

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Mixed reactions to PM

Saturday, January 06, 2007

THE appointment of military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister is unconstitutional, says the Fiji Law Society.

Society president Devanesh Sharma said the appointment was contrary to section 98 of the 1997 Constitution.

He said the Constitution stipulates that the prime minister is to be appointed by the President, acting in his judgment, chose a member of the House of Representatives who can form a government that has the confidence of the House.

Mr Sharma was commenting on Commodore Bainimarama's appointment.

In his national address, the commander warned against anybody challenging the legality of his appointment.

"I implore all those who may think about challenging through whatever means or method, the choice and wisdom of His Excellency, to think again and put the interests of the nation at heart and not their personal interests," he said.

"We need to move forward.

"Some individuals may feel embittered or feel sidelined but I appeal to them with all sincerity and as a citizen of this beloved nation that you should accept the wisdom of His Excellency and let us work together in peace and harmony to take our country to truly democratic and constitution-based elections."

The Methodist Church in Fiji did not want to comment on the appointment.

Church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca said the church would not comment on the appointment nor on President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's address, in which he endorsed the illegal takeover.

The Methodist church had earlier refused to comment on the involvement of one of their lay preachers, Dr Jona Senilagakali, who was the military-appointed caretaker prime minister.

The church's general secretary, Reverend Ame Tugaue, said the church urged its members to continue praying for what had happened in the country instead of exchanging comments with the military.

Mr Tugaue said all the church could ask was for people to keep praying and wait for God to unveil his plans.

The Arya Pratindhi Sabha welcomed yesterday's developments.

"We believe that to carry out all the issues which were outlined by his Excellency, the commander's assumption of interim prime minister is a natural one and not a surprise, under the present circumstances," said Sabha president Kamlesh Arya.

"Commodore Bainimarama has, through the ousting of the Laisenia Qarase-led government, started a new political episode of cleansing the nation of it's political ills.

"Now he has to see the accomplishment of his concerns through the interim government and as such he becomes the interim prime minister, which makes sense," he said.

"We also hope that the interim prime minister will be able to set an equally-good interim government made of people who promote good governance, transparency, social cohesion and inclusiveness."

The president of Association of Christian Churches, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, said they would prefer to comment on the issue after a meeting with their members.

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