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Commonwealth keeps tabs on progress in Fiji

Commonwealth keeps tabs on progress

18 February 2001

USP Pacific Journalism Online: USP Pasifik Nius:

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By Reggie Dutt University of the South Pacific journalism programme

ABUJA, Nigeria (Pasifik Nius): Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon is keeping a close eye on the situation in Fiji while awaiting the Appeal Court decision on Justice Anthony Gates' ruling upholding the 1997 multiracial constitution, the Sunday Sun reports.

McKinnon said he expected Fiji to resolve its political situation with the Court of Appeal decision on the validity of the 1997 constitution expected by March.

He jokingly said he thought about Fiji at least eight times a day to emphasise the interest the Commonwealth had in the state of affairs in Fiji.

McKinnon was present at the closing of the Commonwealth Journalists Association's sixth conference that was held in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, over the past week.

He said a lot would depend on how the interim administration responded to any decision by the Appeal Court.

McKinnon does not think now is the right time for a referendum on how to resolve the country's political stand-off.

He would not be drawn into what sort of action the Commonwealth could take to help Fiji back to constitutional democracy, stressing only that he was working closely with Commonwealth special envoy Justice Pius Langa.

McKinnon said he would like to see a return to democracy more "rapidly than what you are displaying at the moment" so that Fiji would be acceptable to the Commonwealth.



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