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FIJI: National protest planned for democracy

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SUVA: Fiji's employers and unions are today expected to decided on a date for national protest over the law and order problems and in favour of a solution to the crisis within the framework of the 1997 multiracial constitution.

The Fiji Times reported that this had been decided at a joint committee meeting of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Fiji Employers Federation, Fiji Chamber of Commerce and non-government organisations yesterday.

FTUC general secretary Felix Anthony said the joint committee hoped to meet interim President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to discuss their position.

"We will put forward the position of all parties to him and request for a solution to the crisis within the framework of the 1997 constitution," he said.

A petition for the restoration of democracy has collected 29,000 signatures so far, said organiser Mick Beddoes.

An official of the People's Passive Resistance Group, Beddoes has been campaigning since the beginning of the crisis.

He said that "we may need to ask for a United Nations observer force" because Fiji authorities were not coping with the situation.

However, for the request to succeed, a minimum 100,000 signatures would be needed on the petition.

A new cabinet line-up will also be announced today, interim President Iloilo's private secretary Suliasi Turagabeci confirmed.

The Daily Post said it was understood that caretaker prime Minister Laisenia Qarase still remained the choice to head cabinet ahead of other contenders.

Qarase met with President Iloilo and later held an audience with army chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Rebel leader George Speight and his choice for prime minister Adi Samanunu Cakobau also met with the President.

But it is understood that "Speight stormed out of Ratu Iloilo's residence, not happy with what he was told", the Daily Post said.

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