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Citizens' Group Calls For Interim Govt To Resign

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/
USP Pasifik Nius: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html
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* See PN earlier reports: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/nius3102shoot.html

* See 3111, 3109

SUVA: A Fiji Islands pro-democracy group called on the military installed interim administration to be ready to resign and make way for the formation of a government of national unity following today's landmark court ruling that the 1997 constitution is still valid.

The Citizens' Constitutional Forum hailed the judgement of Justice Anthony Gates in the High Court of Fiji as "a victory for constitutional government and the rule of law".

In his decision today in the western town of Lautoka, Judge Gates said the 1997 Constitution - which was claimed by the military to have been abrogated on May 29 when imposing martial law following the coup led by failed businessman George Speight - was still intact and that the interim government was illegal.

He also ruled that Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who stepped aside at the behest of the military, was still the legal President of Fiji and ordered him to urgently convene a special sitting of Parliament.

Judge Gates said the military's appointment of an interim government was unlawful and unconstitutional. He added that all those elected in the deposed Mahendra Chaudhry government were still Members of Parliament.

The judge was ruling on a lawsuit by Chandrika Prasad, a citizen who had questioned the legality of the abrogation of the constitution.

Radio Fiji said Judge Gates' ruling was the first verdict taken in what was expected to be a series of challenges to the military's decision to abolish the 1997 Constitution.

The Citizens' Constitutional Forum also called on the Fiji Military Forces and the police to support the restoration of the 1997 Constitution and the return of the President who would convene a government of national unity.

The forum made a plea for Fiji citizens to respect the law and refrain from any illegal acts.

"This is a time for all people who have been divided by the coup of May 19 to support the reconciliation that will be initiated by a government of national unity," said executive director Rev Akuila Yabaki.

"We call on those who had orchestrated the events leading up to the May 19 illegal seizure of the elected government not to arouse indigenous Fijians to engage in unlawful activities.

"The provincial councils and the Great Council of Chiefs should not be used by politicians who are going to lose their offices as the consequence of this decision to oppose the restoration of constitutional government in Fiji."

+++niuswire


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