[JURIST] Fiji's High Court on Thursday dismissed [decision, PDF] a legal challenge to the country's 2006 coup, holding that Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo [official profile] had the authority to name new leaders after former prime minister Laisenia Qarase [BBC profile] was ousted by the Fijian military. Qarase originally brought suit [JURIST report] against the government in October 2007, saying that the military coup [JURIST report] was illegal because it had supplanted his democratically elected government. Rejecting Qarase's argument, the court held that Iloilo had acted within the country's constitution [text], characterizing his naming of a new prime minister as an allowable retention of authority until a new prime minister could be elected. Qarase expressed disappointment [Fiji Times report] in the ruling, saying it would encourage future coups as a legitimate means of gaining power. He is considering appealing the case to the country's Supreme Court. AP has more. FBCL has local coverage.
In September, Qarase made additional charges that current prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama [BBC profile] and others who participated in the December 2006 military coup [JURIST news archive] had committed treason [Fiji Daily Post report] by ousting Qarase's democratically elected government. Later that month, Qarase tried to make a statement [JURIST report] to police regarding the allegations, but they said they would not investigate the charges. Less than two days after December's coup, a previous interim prime minister installed by the military characterized the coup as "illegal" [JURIST report], but defended it as necessary. Qarase's case was heard by a three-judge panel led by Acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, who was appointed [press release] after Bainimarama suspended former Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki [JURIST report].