FIJI COALITION CALLS FOR URGENT CONVENING OF PARLIAMENT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 4, 2001 - Pacnews/Fiji’s Sunday Post/Fiji’s Sunday Times/Pasifik Nius)---The deposed elected coalition government in Fiji has appealed to acting President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to call an urgent sitting of Parliament following last week's historic Court of Appeal ruling, Pacnews reports.

The report comes as Sunday newspapers reported several political moves in the wake of the judgment upholding the 1997 constitution and ruling the interim regime illegal.

Former university professor Dr Tupeni Baba, a deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the ousted government, is reported to be making a strong bid for the leadership.

According to Pacnews, a letter addressed to the acting President was signed by Ponipate Lesavua, of the Party of National Unity (PANU); Adi Kuini Vuikaba Speed, of the Fijian Association Party, (FAP); Mahendra Chaudhry, of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP); Poseci Bune, of the Veitokani Lewenivanua Vakarisito (VLV); and Leo Smith, of the General Voters Party (GVP).

"We the undersigned parliamentary leaders of the listed parties represented in the Parliament of Fiji and acting with the support of a clear majority of the elected members of the House of Representatives, hereby seek and request that your excellency employ your constitutional powers as contained in section 68 of the constitution to summon Parliament as a matter of urgency," reads the letter dated March 1, 2001.

"We can see no lawful impediment to the recall of Parliament nor to the workability of either House," it said adding, "our parties are committed to the establishment of a government drawing on broad support in Parliament as envisaged under the constitution."

"Despite the upheavals of last year, we believe that our parties have retained a clear majority with the support of at least 54 of the 71 elected MPs."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported today that the military regarded Mahendra Chaudhry as a "threat to national security" if he returned as prime minister.

In a front page story, reporter Margaret Wise, widely regarded as close to the regime, quoted unnamed military sources, saying that this view would be relayed to the National Security Council, which meets tomorrow to discuss the political situation.

The Sunday Post reported that deposed Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Baba was gathering support from different political groups to become the country's next prime minister.

The report said Dr. Baba had been "reportedly working around the clock to dislodge Mahendra Chaudhry from the position."

The Post said "well-placed coalition sources" said Dr. Baba and other coalition members had worked out a possible structure for the proposed government of national unity.

Indigenous members of the coalition met yesterday to discuss their political future.

According to Pacnews, Chaudhry's Fiji Labour Party is due to meet in the capital tomorrow to finalize its choice for prime minister with Chaudhry and Dr. Baba the main contenders.

Full PJO coverage on the court ruling: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/usp41judgelead.html 

Judgment summary: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/usp40judge.html 

* See PN items 3246, 3244, 3243, 3242, 3241, 3240, 3238, 3237, 3235

Title -- 3248 FIJI: Coalition calls for urgent convening of Parliament Date -- 4 March 2001 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- PN/Pacnews/Sunday Post/Sunday Times, 4/3/1 Copyright -- PN/Pacnews/SP/ST Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius:  niusedita@pactok.net.au  http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html 

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