QARASE EYES REFERENDUM TO CHANGE FIJI CONSTITUTION

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 27) - The Fijian
government is considering making changes to its controversial constitution by
referendum.

The Laisenia Qarase administration does not have the required
numbers in parliament to make any constitutional change, and is considering
taking its proposed amendments to the people.

The Fijian government needs the parliamentary support of the
Indian dominated Fiji Labor Party to make up the two thirds majority needed to
change any provision of the 1997 constitution.

The constitution has been described by indigenous politicians as
anti-Fijian.

Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale said the method of changing the
constitution specified under the 1997 constitution has failed to provide a
consensus.

Bale said this is similar to previous constitutions and past
leaders have always considered a referendum as an option to amending the
constitution.

Bale said there is also no provision in the 1997 constitution
providing an alternative method. He said they are trying to convince the Labor
Party to agree to the setting up of a referendum Act.

Talks on the issue have been suspended until the sitting of the
Supreme Court next month.

The Fiji Labor party has the second largest number of seats in
parliament and say they should form a multi party government with Qarase’s SDL
party.

May 27, 2003

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra 

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