CITIZENS CONSTITUTIONAL FORUM TRUSTEES DO NOT ACCEPT COURT DECISION

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 12, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The trustees of Fiji's Citizens Constitutional Forum do not accept yesterday's High Court decision, which allows the August general elections to go ahead.

The trustees’ lawyer, Sir Vijay Singh, says his clients need time to study Justice Michael Scott’s judgment and that the organization may also meet to discuss the legal avenues that are still open to it.

Justice Scott ruled that President's Ratu Josefa Iloilo’s decision to refuse summoning the former Parliament and dissolving it, dismissing Mahendra Chaudhry as prime minister and reappointing Laisenia Qarase as caretaker prime minister were all done on the grounds of necessity.

Justice Scott ruled it would not now be feasible to turn the clock back since preparations for general elections, to return Fiji to democratic government, are well under way.

He said the New Zealand and Australian governments have offered close to $2 million to assist with the election funding.

However, Sir Vijay and his clients have described Justice Scott's ruling as a "terrorist charter."

"Our concern is the kind of precedent, the kind of law that this case will leave behind for future generations," he said.

"If this decision stands, it is in my respectful view a charter for the terrorists. March down the road --10,000 of you -- end up in Government House. Demand the sitting government's removal because you hate the prime minister of the time and oblige the president to do what the present president did in the middle of March. That's the question."

 

WRITS FOR FIJI'S GENERAL ELECTIONS NEXT MONTH ISSUED

SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 12, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The writs for Fiji's general elections next month have been issued.

President Ratu Josefa Iloilo has endorsed the caretaker Cabinet's advice, reaffirming their recommendation that the elections are a more realistic way to return the country to constitutional rule.

Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports.

"The President has signed 71 individual writs for each of the country's constituencies.

"Caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase advised Ratu Josefa late this afternoon on his government's support for the general elections and that the writs of elections be issued.

"The general election is scheduled to take place between the 25th of August and the 1st of September.

"The Supervisor of Elections, Walter Rigamoto, has received the writs, which will be dispatched to the three District Commissioners.

"Rigamoto says the writs summon the Elections Office to effect nominations of candidates on the 26th of July.

"Meanwhile, the President has also endorsed advice from the caretaker Cabinet for the Constitution Review Commission's work to be put on hold. But in the meantime a group will form a panel to prepare a report on the work of the Commission. The report of the group should be submitted to the President by the 15th of August.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

 

RECORD NUMBER OF PARTIES TO CONTEST FIJI ELECTIONS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 12, 2001 – Radio Australia)---A record number of political parties will be contesting the coming Fiji elections for which the writs were issued yesterday.

The elections follow a Court of Appeal ruling earlier this year that upheld the country's multi-racial Constitution and, as Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports, voting will take place over eight days from August 25th to September 1st.

"Fiji's complicated voting system provides for a large number of communal seats and the voting for those is race specific.

"While the battle over the next six weeks for the Indo -Fijian vote will be basically a two party race between Mahendra Chaudhry's Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party, there's been an explosion of parties on the indigenous Fijian side of politics.

"One of them, the nationalist Conservative Alliance, maintains it will nominate coup leader George Speight, even though he now is committed to go on trial for treason for conducting the civilian coup that removed Mr. Chaudhry from office last year.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia."

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

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