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People Stay Away From Constitution Committee

Issue No: 263 6 December 2000

The people have decided to stay away from the regime's Constitution Committee.

The Constitution Committee, headed by Asesela Ravuvu, has been meeting in the Suva-Nasinu corridor this week. According to reports, there are very few persons turning up to make their submissions. According to one report, there was only one submittee on Monday morning. This trend continued yesterday.

The few submittees who have turned up have mostly been ethnic Fijians who have focussed on the issue of Christian state in Fiji. Judging from media reports, there is an even division between those who wish Fiji to be declared a Christian state and those who oppose this.

The shunning of the Constitution Commission has been so great that the Commission Chairman, Asesela Ravuvu, and its secretary have on numerous occasions appealed to the people to make their submissions. People have remained away despite this. It is believed that the Judge Gates declaration that the Commission has no legal basis has convinced people that the Ravuvu commission is a waste of time and effort.

One local newspaper carried a large cartoon today where the Commissioner is asking a commission member with binoculars whether he can see any submittee coming to the venue. It is understood that with the lack of legitimacy given it by the urban dwellers, the Committee now plans to visit remote areas and villages where it hopes it will get better support. In Fiji's custom, visitors to the village are respected - both in the ethnic Indian and the ethnic Fijian communities.

Ravuvu and his team have refused to abide by the law as declared by the High Court. It is expected that the High Court will make its decision on the regime's application for the stay order today.

END 6 December 2000


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