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Chaudhry calls for unity as court sits

Chaudhry calls for unity as court sits

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SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Fiji's deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has called for commitment and unity, the Fiji Sun reports.

In a message to the nation yesterday, the leader of the Fiji Labour Party and the People's Coalition Government reiterated his party's commitment to work towards the restoration of peace, democracy and the rule of law.

"To emphasise our position, we remain committed to establishing the firm foundation for lasting peace, stability, tolerance and respect in our own multi-ethnic society," he said.

"To this we will continue our efforts engaging in constructive dialogue and consultation with other parties and decision-makers to find a peaceful solution that is fair and just for all in our nation."

Chaudhry, who won a landslide election victory in May 1999 before being deposed in an attempted coup a year later by indigenous chauvinist rebels, maintained that the People's Coalition Government always supported upholding of the rule of law and parliamentary democracy.

He said he appreciated the actions of the Fiji Military Forces and police in upholding the law pending the Fiji Court of Appeal ruling. He said they deserved total support.

"Resorting to violence as a means of gaining control will always achieve nothing for long-term stability and peace," he said.

Chaudhry indicated that the former People's Coalition Government respected the legal authority of the court and he appealed to the nation to uphold the court's decision.

Today marks a milestone in the history of Fiji as the court hears the case of Chandrika Prasad, a resident of Muaniweni who claims his rights were violated when he was driven from his farm during George Speight's attempted coup last May.

In his initial case it was decided that the 1997 constitution remained in effect and that the interim government, which came to power in an emergency, was not legal.

Today marks the start of the five-day Court of Appeal hearing to see if that decision can be upheld under law.

Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga appointed the Court of Appeal panel.

Heading the panel is Sir Maurice Casey, a retired New Zealand Court of Appeal judge.



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