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New Pacific Apartheid Warning

Issue No: 86; 6 October 2000

New Pacific Apartheid Warning

A new Pacific apartheid will emerge if the Commonwealth does not protect the 1997 Constitution of Fiji.

This warning was given to the Commonwealth Ministerial Actin Group meeting by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in September in New York.

A Pacnews report stated that the Human Rights Initiative urged the Commonwealth not to validate the interim government by dealing with them as if they were democratically elected. The Initiative stated:

"The Commonwealth must send a clear message that the international community views the interim administration as a mechanism for keeping the wheels of government operating, not as a body mandated to give policy direction to the country".

"To date the actions of the Commonwealth and the international community generally have been ineffective in encouraging a return to democracy in Fiji under the 1997 Constitution".

The report to CMAG further stated:

"A united call will be the most potent means of expressing to the military backed interim administration that the international community expects a return to democracy under the 1997 Constitution and anything less will result in an undemocratic Fiji remaining an international pariah".

The body asked the CMAG to instruct the Office of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth to make contact with appropriate officers in the European Union and the UN in order to arrange a co-ordinated response by regional and international organisations around the world. It stated:

"If democracy is not returned to Fiji under the 1997 Constitution by October 2001, CMAG should recommend to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that Fiji be expelled from the Commonwealth for serious and persistent violations of the Harare Declaration".

On the constitution review, the Report asked for reconvening of the 1999 Parliament and the formation of a government of national unity. It stated:

"If the government of national unity believes constitutional reform is necessary, they as the elected representatives of the people of Fiji can undertake a consultation process to assess what the people would like to see amended in the 1997 Constitution and undertake to amend the constitution according to the process laid out in the Constitution"

The interim regime has not commented on the report.

Meanwhile, the regime's Information Minister informed the media that the regime will announce the names of those in its Constitution Commission.

END

6 October 200

Remaining Constitution Commission Members Announced

The interim regime today announced the names of the 5 remaining members of its Constitution Commission.

The five are:

Joe Singh

Fred Achari

Ben Bhagwan

Joseph Kanhaiyalal Maharaj

William Sorby

Sorby is from the general voter community while the other four are from the ethnic Indian community.

The Fiji Labour Party, the PANU, the VLV, the Fijian Association, the General Voters Party, the United General Party and the National Federation Party have all rejected the Constitution Commission and the members proposed by the regime. Amongst them these parties represent over 75% of Fiji's population.

END

6 October 2000

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