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FIJI: Quit review, consumers tell Indo-Fijians

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SUVA: The Fiji Consumer Association has called on the four Indo-Fijian members of the Constitution Review Commission to resign from the committee immediately, the Daily Post reports.

Association president Hida Hussain said the four - social worker Benjamin Bhagwan, business consultant Joe Singh, retired civil servant Fred Achari and lawyer Joseph Maharaj - did not represent the Indian community.

"The committee must be made up of members of all sections of society and, more importantly Indians, since they comprise about 46 per cent of the total population," Hussain said.

"It is very sad to note that they all belong to the Christian faith and there are no representatives at all selected from other organisations," he said.

"We request them to do the honourable thing by resigning immediately from the review committee," he said.

"The association is of the view that Indians in Fiji constitute divergent religious beliefs, cultural identities, economic standards, education level and lots of other differences and with that in mind, it makes it very important for the interim administration to appoint true representatives of those different identities than those already appointed.

"The other point the association wishes to raise relates to whether there is a need to review the constitution. Several experts in the field, including those who laboured to produce this document in 1997, have clearly said that this is the best constitution for Fiji.

"It is internationally recognised by the world community and is hailed as the best type of guideline for multicultural and multiracial communities like we have here in Fiji.

"The association implores the interim administration to disband the review committee as soon as possible and restore the 1997 constitution," he said.

In other developments:

* The Daily Post reports Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase of the military-installed interim administration told a Journal of Pacific Studies seminar at the University of the South Pacific yesterday that indigenous Fijians felt insecure under the rule of the Mahendra Chaudhry led elected government.

He said that although indigenous Fijians were in a majority in the Chaudhry government, Chaudhry himself had control on policy directions.

"Any visitor to Fiji who reads the newspaper and listens to the news on the radio will probably think the overwhelming majority of Fijians support our immediate return to constitutional democracy under the 1997 constitution and under the leadership of the Fiji Labour Party and the people's coalition [government] ... this in my view would be a misreading of the true feelings of Fijians, who comprise more than 52 per cent of Fiji's population," said Qarase.

* The Fiji Sun reports Police Commissioner Isikia Savua may have directed a police vehicle to transport arms to the parliamentary complex a day after the takeover of Parliament by the rebels led by failed businessman George Speight on May 19.

The newspaper reported that an unnamed officer had testified to the tribunal investigating Savua's role in the rebellion that a police vehicle fully laden with arms arrived at Parliament before dawn on May 20, apparently with the police chief's authority.

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