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FIJI - CHAUDHRY: PACNEWS PACNEWS 2: Mon September 04 2000 12.25
Chaudhry rejects interim government's move to review the 1997 Constitution

04 SEPTEMBER 2000 LONDON (Pacnews) --- Fiji's deposed Prime
Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry says the review of the 1997 constitution is 'unnecessary'.
Chaudhry was addressing the Fijian community in London at the weekend.
He urged the international community to reject plans from the
military-appointed government of Laisenia Qarase to review the
constitution, which was allegedly abrogated after gunmen took the government hostage
in May.

"The present constitution was working well," he told his audience of
Indo-Fijians and indigenous Fijians.

In any case, he said, a review would not solve the conditions that led to the
gunmen raiding Parliament, referring to the watertight protections already
included for indigenous rights and customs in the 1997 document.
"This was why there was need for a long-term involvement by international
bodies such as the United Nations and the Commonwealth. They could
help to put in place structures that would respect the rights and dignity of all people in
Fiji," Chaudhry said.

He explained how the 1997 constitution had evolved from a wide-ranging
consultation with the people of Fiji and how it had won the support of the
Great Council of Chiefs and the indigenous-Fijian-dominated Parliament
of the time.

Chaudhry repeated his view, made earlier on this visit, that he foresaw a
good future for Fiji, but only if the international community helped restore
democracy in the country.

If democracy continued to be threatened, the country could spiral into a
chasm from which it would be difficult to recover.

He also forecast that official security would need to be looked and the
public's access to Parliament may have to be restricted.

Yesterday's meeting at the Trades Union Congress Hall was part of
Chaudhry's campaign to get international support to restore democracy in Fiji. He was
introduced by Aime Sagara, head of public affairs of the Royal
Commonwealth Society.

Chaudhry will be in New York this week for discussions with
Commonwealth and American officials...PNS (ENDS)


Constitution Review Commission to look at the powers of the Great Council of Chiefs

04 SEPTEMBER 2000 SUVA (Pacnews) ---- The paramountcy of the
Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) is one of the main issues to be looked at by the
Constitutional Review Committee appointed by the Interim Government to put together a
new constitution for Fiji.

Justice Minister, Alipate Qetaki said the paramountcy of the GCC had not
been made clear since its establishment.

"I cannot pre-guess what the Commission is going to come out with in
relation to the voting system, but I think we all agreed that we have a ridiculous
system. The preferential voting system actually did not work and produced
ridiculous results," he said.

"The result was a disaster for the National Federation Party. The Party was
wiped out in the last election. That system should not be allowed to

This is what the Commission is going to look at. I think the first past the
post system ensured the wishes of the voters are respected," Qetaki said.
The eleven-member Constitution Review Committee is headed by
University of the South Pacific's, Professor Asesela Ravuvu.

Four members of the Indian community and a member to represent other
races on the Commission will be appointed later by the Interim Government.
At the weekend, two of the country's Indian dominated political parties
rejected the make-up of the Constitutional Review Commission.
The Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party have urged
members not to support what they are calling the 'one-sided' Commission...PNS


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