Qoriniasi Bale


Qoriniasi Bale

Qoriniasi Babitu Bale is a lawyer and political leader, who has served twice as Fiji's Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, most recently from 2001 to 2006, when he was deposed in the military coup of 5 December. Like many of Fiji's most influential leaders, Bale is a native of Levukana in Vanuabalavu in the Lau Islands.

Education and early career

Bale was educated at Queen Victoria School then University of Otago in New Zealand, where he graduated with a LLB degree in 1969. Upon returning to Fiji, he was appointed a Crown Counsel in the Crown Law Office, and subsequently became a Crown Prosecutor in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1970. In 1975, he became Principal Legal Officer in the Crown Law Office, before being promoted to Solicitor General in 1979, a post he held till 1984. He was the first native-born Solicitor General; his predecessors had all been from the United Kingdom.

Political career

Bale had his first foray into politics in 1984, when the Governor General of Fiji appointed him to the Senate at the nomination of Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. At that time the Senate consisted of 22 members, 7 of whom were nominated by the Prime Minister. He became Attorney General in the Cabinet, and later that year was also appointed to the newly-created position of Minister for Justice. He retired from politics, however, following the defeat of the Alliance Party in the general election of 1987.

Following the Fiji coups of 1987, Bale went into private practice as a lawyer. He served as Legal Adviser to the Great Council of Chiefs and the Fijian Affairs Board for 18 years, and as Chairman of the Electoral Commission and the Boundaries Commission from 1990 to 1996. He was also Chairman of Ratu Sukuna Memorial School from 1988 to 1996, and Chairman of the Council of the Fiji School of Medicine for 10 years.

Following the restoration of democracy after the Fiji coup of 2000, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase appointed Bale to the Senate in September 2001. One of the 9 out of 32 Senators chosen by the Prime Minister, he found himself holding the portfolios of Attorney-General and Minister for Justice once more.

Policies

A member of the ruling United Fiji Party (SDL), he is known to have Fijian nationalist sympathies and has called for substantial amendments to be made to the Constitution adopted in 1997. This Constitution, which was abrogated in the course of the 2000 coup, was subsequently reinstated in March 2001, following two court rulings. He told the Senate on 30 October 2004 that there was no point in debating the pros and cons of the Constitution, as there was no public consensus on the document.

In May and June 2005, Bale has been promoting the highly controversial Reconciliation, Tolerance, and Unity Bill, which proposes the establishment of a Commission with the power, subject to presidential approval, to compensate victims and pardon perpetrators of crimes related to the 2000 coup. Despite mounting public opposition from many sectors of the community, Bale has refused to withdraw the bill or submit it to a referendum.

In July 2006, Bale claimed that the Fiji Labour Party had no right to call itself the opposition and appoint shadow ministers. He interprets a provision in the constitution as only allowing the FLP itself to join the government, not just certain members (Mahendra Chaudhry said that nine FLP members would join the government). Bale said "as far as the Opposition goes there are only two formal Opposition members while the rest of the FLP members are government back-benchers." [http://www.fijilive.com/news/show/news/2006/07/13/07Fijilive1317.html]

External links

* [http://www.ag.gov.fj/default.aspx?page=attorneyGeneral Profile of Senator Bale on the OAG website]


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