Monday, April 14, 2008

Rabuka calls for capital punishment for future Fiji coups


Stuff.co.nz News - 14 April 2008


Fiji's first coup, Sitiveni Rabuka, has called for the return of capital punishment for treason.
But he wants to give the current coup leader, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, immunity from any prosecution and a full prime ministerial pension in return for his retirement.
Rabuka's proposals in the Fiji Sun come amidst fears that Bainimarama's military council will revoke the country's constitution and re-impose a state of emergency shortly.
Rabuka staged Fiji's first two coups in 1987 while Bainimarama in December 2006 overthrew the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.
Because Rabuka's coups were successful he had successive constitutions amended to give him immunity from prosecution.
In the 2000 George Speight coup the main perpetrators were convicted of treason which, at the time, was a capital offence. Parliament quickly changed the law so that the death penalty was removed.
Now, as part of a package, Rabuka wants hanging returned.
Rabuka is concerned that the 87-year-old ailing President Josefa Iloilo might be about to die.
When that happens, he said, "Fiji would face a crisis worse than a military takeover".
The only way out would be for Bainimarama to take over as president and that would create a further crisis.
Rabuka told the Fiji Sun that before Iloilo dies, the deposed parliament should be restored and made to change the constitution so that Bainimarama and his ministers and supporters are given immunity from prosecution.
Parliament should then be dissolved and an "interim bureaucratic government" of heads of departments installed and an election called.
"These need to be stage - managed to ensure the sacrificial co-operation of all concerned.
"(Bainimarama) can then be retired on full-term prime ministerial pension that is five -year PM's pension, plus his normal (Fiji National Provident Fund) pension once he attains the pensionable age of 55."
Once a new parliament is in place "capital punishment for capital crimes reactivated so that any future treasonable activities will face the full brunt of the law," Rabuka told the Sun.
"These seem drastic and 'way out' solutions but we must remember that drastic situations demand drastic solutions."
Fears that the Bainimarama military government may abrogate the constitution are linked to a case before the Supreme Court taken by Qarase who questioned the legality of the government.
The case has been argued and the country is now awaiting a judgment. Legal circles expect the court to rule the coup was illegal, prompting Bainimarama to abrogate the constitution.
Rabuka said the nation would not want that and nor would neighbouring nations.
"It cannot be a good move, wise or not, because it will only speed up our economic decline and cost us many more heartaches. We will lose more of our people and investors who will migrate to more manageable futures in other politically stable countries," Rabuka told the Fiji Sun.
"Our credibility will be totally erased making it very difficult to rebuild at the end of the political reconstruction and constitutional re-engineering phase the government will lead us into with the abrogation of the constitution. While it is a way out, it is not a good one."

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