FIJI SENATE PASSES CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILL

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SUVA (July 10, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji Senate unanimously passed the Constitution Amendment Bill Thursday, leaving only President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara to give his approval before the bill is enacted.

The Senate action follows an earlier, unanimous vote by the Fiji House of Representatives, also endorsing the bill.

If approved by Sir Kamisese, which is expected, the new constitution --eliminating the racially-weighted constitution favoring indigenous Fijians that came into effect following the two coups of ten years ago--will become the law of the land a year from now, during July, 1998.

Among other things, the new constitution again will permit ethnic Indians to become Cabinet members and to hold the position of Prime Minister.

Fiji opposition leader Jai Ram Reddy was elated with the positive outcome of the constitution revision process, as was Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

US Ambassador to Fiji, Don Gervirtz, said the outcome of the constitution deliberations creates a productive environment for economic and social development in Fiji

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