SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 15, 2000 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Elections in the Fiji Islands will be held by March 2002, the interim government's Cabinet said yesterday.

An Information Ministry statement said the elections would return the country to an elected Parliament and government.

The elections will be held under a new constitution, which will be drawn up, after submissions, by the Constitution Review Commission.

The commission is holding public hearings and has invited written submissions from members of the public on their views and recommendations.

A new constitution should be ready by the end of June 2001, the government statement said.

A pubic relations campaign will then be mounted to explain the constitution, culminating in its formal promulgation in December 2001.

During this period preparations will be made by the Elections Office covering all the requirements to enable the election to be held the following year.

The ministry statement said the Cabinet decision reflected the deep appreciation of the government to the positive attitude of Pacific Islands Forum leaders last month on the situation in Fiji.

The Forum encouraged Fiji to return to constitutional democracy as early as possible.

Fiji is governed by an interim civilian government supported by the Fiji Military Forces and the indigenous Fijian Great Council of Chiefs.

This follows the violence and unrest after Fiji's first ethic Indian prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and his government were taken hostage by indigenous Fijian gunmen on May 19.

In other Fiji developments reported by The Fiji Times:

* Economic growth for this year has plummeted, Agriculture Minister Apisai Tora told the Asia Pacific Coconut Community meeting at Nadi. He said it has gone from a projected 3.4 percent to a negative eight percent.

* The Great Council of Chiefs meeting this month will seek a solution to national instability, chairperson Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed.

"Our reconciliation committee has been gathering ideas and views," he said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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