FIJI HINDU MOVEMENTS VOW TO SACK CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW

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"COLLABORATORS"

SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 4, 2000 – Fiji Sun/Pasifik Nius)---Fiji's two main Hindu movements have agreed to sack members and relinquish all association with organizations that join or support the controversial Constitution Review Commission, the Fiji Sun reports.

The movements reiterated that they would continue to pressure all Indo-Fijians into disassociating themselves from the review team, to be headed by University of the South Pacific academic Professor Asesela Ravuvu.

The military installed interim administration has since last week claimed that four members of the Indo-Fijian community have agreed to join the review commission after being approached.

The names will be announced by the end of the week together with a representative of the general voter population, according to the newspaper.

The Fiji Sun understands that some former members of Parliament have been approached to join the review commission.

When contacted yesterday, a "renowned figure" in the Indo-Fijian community refused to comment, saying "there was nothing official yet" and that "it should only come from the top."

During a meeting held at Tavua last Saturday, the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji decided to sever ties with anyone who supported the drawing up of a new constitution.

Sabha president Kamlesh Arya said he believed no self-respecting Indian would want to be part of the review team.

"Judging by the way things are going, it seems that at the end of the day everybody, except indigenous Fijians and Rotumans, will be disenfranchised," Arya said.

"We don't know who these Indo-Fijians are but if they have consented then they certainly do not represent the Indian people."

Arya said that if indigenous Fijians had grievances, it should have been done through the framework of the 1997 constitution.

Shri Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha's national president, Harish Sharma, expressed similar sentiments, reports the Fiji Sun.

Sharma said he had predicted that some Indo-Fijians, despite discouragement, would join the review commission.

"During my submissions to the ACP fact-finding team, I stated that the new constitution would be like the 1990 constitution and there would be some Indians who would shamelessly join the review panel," Sharma said.

"These stooges who do not represent the Indo-Fijian community but the interim government will claim otherwise."

Sharma said his organization would also relinquish association with members who intended to join the review process.

Earlier, United General Party spokesperson Mick Beddoes had called on general voters (all races other than Indo-Fijians, indigenous Fijians and Rotumans) not to accept invitations to join the commission.

Beddoes said both the UGP and rival General Voters Party (GVP) could not participate because the parties needed to widely consult members.

This was difficult because of the restrictions under martial law on political meetings and the curfew hours.

* The commission said it would name the final 12 members this week.

It is expected to start work next week to pave the way for the next general elections scheduled for 2002. A report by the commission is expected by next August.

Title -- 3020 FIJI: Hindu movements vow to sack 'collaborators' Date -- 4 October 2000 Byline -- John Kamea Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- PN/Fiji Sun, 4/10/00 Copyright -- PN/FS Status -- Unabridged

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