INDIGENOUS FIJI POLITICAL PARTIES TO ABIDE BY APPEALS COURT RULING

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 7, 2001 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)--Five indigenous Fijian political parties have guaranteed that they will not promote political disobedience after the Appeals Court ruling on the Fiji constitution.

And they have given assurances that that they will stand by the decisions made by the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, after the ruling.

Yesterday the new Fijian Parties Forum decided to retain their party identities but have regular consultation.

"We have set up the decision making authority through which the parties consult one another," said spokesman Esira Rabuno.

The Forum is made up of the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei, Fijian Association, Veitokoni ni Lewenivanua Vakarisito, New Nationalist Party, and Fijian Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo parties.

Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei spokeswoman Ema Drauvesi said Fijians had been branded as violent and this led to speculation that violence would follow a ruling which did not favor the parties.

The Appeals Court begins sitting on February 19.

Fiji's interim government is appealing against a High Court ruling by Justice Anthony Gates that the 1997 constitution is still in force and the interim government is not legal.

The interim government was formed with the backing of the Great Council of Chiefs and Fiji Military Forces after widespread unrest and violence last year. It followed the Fiji Labour Party-led government -- and Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister -- being taken hostage by indigenous Fijian rebels in a May 19 coup.

Police Commissioner Isikia Savua said permits would not be issued to disgruntled people who intended to protest should the appeal against Justice Gates ruling not sway in their favor.

"By this, we do not mean that we are going to curtail their freedom of speech but they should be more responsible and refrain from such actions," he said.

Police have names of people who threatened to create disturbances and investigations into their actions have been started.

"We intended to come down hard on such people who are threatening the ordinary folks," Mr. Savua said.

He said people had the right to demonstrate but the police and army had powers to disperse crowds that gathered to march.

Mr. Savua said his concern is the ordinary people who would be the worst affected.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

 

FIJI CITES LEGAL PRECEDENTS IN SUSPENDING CONSTITUTION

SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 8, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's interim government says it will rely on international legal precedents to overturn a court ruling that declared the country's 1997 constitution valid.

The country's multi-racial constitution, which went into effect in 1998, was suspended after last May's coup.

As Radio Australia’s Ofa Kaukimoce reports, the legal challenge to the ruling comes just 12 days before the Fiji Court of Appeal examines the matter.

"Government lawyers say they have submitted court judgments from various countries favoring the leadership of interim administrations as having effective control over a state after a political crisis.

"They have filed applicable judgments from Pakistani, Lesotho, Cyprus and many other countries.

"The lawyers argue that 14 of the 15 supporting cases directly endorse the importance of interim administrations having effective control of a country's well being.

"The Laisenia Qarase administration is claiming in its appeal that it is in effective control of the country and therefore it should continue leadership until Fiji returns to parliamentary rule.

"Five judges of the Fiji Court of Appeal will hear the government appeal from the 19th to the 24th of this month.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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