Australia optimistic Fiji change a proposed law granting amnesty

Australia's foreign minister expressed optimism Friday that Fiji would change a proposed law granting amnesty to people who carried out a coup in 2000, but rebuked the country's military commander who has threatened to intervene to block the legislation.

After talks with Fiji Foreign Minister Kaliapote Tavola, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said he had been assured that the Reconciliation and Unity Bill's provisions that extend amnesty to coup participants would be amended.

Speaking ahead of the talks, Downer publicly rebuked the South Pacific state's armed forces commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, for intervening in the nation's politics. Bainimarama has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's government for months, warning that the army might step in to stop parliament from passing the bill allowing coup supporters to be pardoned and freed from prison, reports the AP. I.L.

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