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President was not advised by government lawyers

PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI

President was not advised by government lawyers

Issue No: 609 21 March 2001

Government lawyers now claim that they did not advice the President on the Court of Appeal ruling and the course to follow.

Today's Radio Fiji news reports the government lawyers expressing dissatisfaction over them not being provided with a copy of the legal advice which the President received. The clear implication is that the President was not advised by the government lawyers.

The issue now is: where did the advice come from.

It is known that former High Court judge and High Chief Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi had submitted his legal opinion to the then Acting President ad well as through the Acting President to the Great Council of Chiefs. But this advice was rejected.

Information to hand shows that no other group formally advised the Acting President or the Council of Chiefs.

But it has been known that Qarase had commissioned a group of ethnic Fijian lawyers to advice him on the course of action. The group later split into two with one arguing that the regime should ignore the court decision.

It is also known that the President's speech was drafted in Qarase's office. One can reasonably conclude that the President was advised by the Qarase team which in turn was advised by ethnic Fijian lawyers in private practice.

This raises the ethical issue of Qarase and his office refusing to call on to government lawyers to seek advice and instead resorting to private ethnic Fijian lawyers. A further issue arising is that some of the ethnic Fijian lawyers providing the advice are lawyers for the terrorists, and some have also been sub-contracted by the regime to defend it in the constitutional case against it. There is a clear conflict of interest of a lot of these ethnic Fijian lawyers. It is possible that in any further legal case against the regime, some of the ethnic Fijian lawyers who advised Qarase will again be hired by the regime to defend it.

Ultimately the fact is that the President was denied quality legal advice. This has led him to take numerous decisions which are unlawful and which will see his office becoming a defendant in a court case.'

History is repeating itself in the form of senior bureaucrats of the regime taking down the regime itself. This happened during the SVT reign, it happened with Qarase, and continues to happen to him. And now it has happened to the esteemed office of the President.

Meanwhile the foreign lawyers hired by the regime, led by Matrix Chambers' Nicholas Blake, have submitted a bill of $230,000 to the regime. For Blake, as a British academic Dr. Warrick Murray had stated, it was not might which was right, but the price which was right when he decided to defend the Qarase regime.

END

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