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FIJI: Coalition calls for convening of Parliament

FIJI: Coalition calls for convening of Parliament

4 March 2001

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SUVA (Pasifik Nius): The deposed elected coalition government in Fiji
has appealed to acting President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to call an urgent
sitting of Parliament following last week's historic Court of Appeal
ruling, Pacnews reports.

The report comes as Sunday newspapers reported several political moves
in the wake of the judgement upholding the 1997 constitution and ruling
the interim regime illegal.

Former university professor Dr Tupeni Baba, a deputy prime minister and
foreign minister in the ousted government, is reported to be making a
strong bid for the leadership.

According to Pacnews, a letter addressed to the acting President was
signed by Ponipate Lesavua, of the Party of National Unity (PANU); Adi
Kuini Vuikaba Speed, of the Fijian Association Party, (FAP); Mahendra
Chaudhry, of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP); Poseci Bune, of the Veitokani
Lewenivanua Vakarisito (VLV); and Leo Smith, of the General Voters Party

"We the undersigned parliamentary leaders of the listed parties
represented in the Parliament of Fiji and acting with the support of a
clear majority of the elected members of the House of Representatives,
hereby seek and request that your excellency employ your constitutional
powers as contained in section 68 of the constitution to summon
Parliament as a matter of urgency," reads the letter dated 1 March 2001.

"We can see no lawful impediment to the recall of Parliament nor to the
workability of either House," it said adding, "our parties are committed
to the establishment of a government drawing on broad support in
Parliament as envisaged under the constitution."

"Despite the upheavals of last year, we believe that our parties have
retained a clear majority with the support of at least 54 of the 71
elected MPs."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported today that the military regarded
Mahendra Chaudhry as a "threat to national security" if he returned as
prime minister.

In a front page story, reporter Margaret Wise, widely regarded as close
to the regime, quoted unnamed military sources, saying that this view
would be relayed to the National Security Council which meets tomorrow
to discuss the political situation.

The Sunday Post reported that deposed deputy prime minister Dr Baba was
gathering support from different political groups to become the
country's next prime minister.

The report said Dr Baba had been "reportedly working around the clock to
dislodge Mahendra Chaudhry from the psoition".

The Post said "well-placed coalition sources" said Dr Baba and other
coalition members had worked out a possible structure for the proposed
government of national unity.

Indigenous members of the coalition met yesterday to discuss their
political future.

According to Pacnews, Chaudhry's Fiji Labour Party is due to meet in the
capital tomorrow to finalise its choice for prime minister with Chaudhry
and Dr Baba the main contenders.



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