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Mixed Reactions From Suva Public

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* See PN item 3237, 3235

By LAUFALEAINA ELI and ANDREA WAQA Pacific Journalism Online (USP)

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): The Fiji Court of Appeal triggered mixed reactions from the public in the capital of Suva today. While many were optimistic, others felt Fiji was still not out of troubled waters yet.

"Fijians are going to be on their toes. I am anticipating more trouble in the near future," said Pauline Bale, a saleswoman from Suva.

"The court decision will not go down well with many so there's definitely going to be more trouble. This is far from over," said a civil servant, who did not wish to be named.

Others however were more optimistic.

"I'm glad that the 1997 Constitution still remains and I don't think that there will be any more trouble," said Nilesh Navin Dhara, a security officer in Suva.

Other people showed no interest at all when they were asked about how they felt about the outcome of the court appeal.

"I really don't care. As long as I have a job and get paid for it," said a Unuiversity of the South Pacific employee.

Before the decision was read out this afternoon, there was a sombre mood at the courthouse.

This was heightened by the presence of tight military and police security around the government building.

Everyone needed special passes to get inside court as it was not a public hearing.

But after the decision was read out by Justice Maurice Casey, smiles and happy faces broke out all over the courtroom.

But the biggest smile of all was on the face of the man who has been the centre of this historical human rights case - refugee farmer Chandrika Prasad.

This is the first ever human rights case in Fiji that has reached the Court of Appeal, according to the Human Rights Commission director, Dr Shaista Shameem.

"We are very happy. We see this as a victory for human rights and the court judgement shows that the judiciary is still intact," she said.

A few shops in town were closed around the time of the hearing.

Some people say that this may be an indication of what the next few days may bring.


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