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1997 Constitution Still Intact – Judge

Issue No: 148; 26 October 2000

The 1997 Constitution is still intact, says Justice Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

Today's Fiji Times (26 Oct) reported that delivering his judgment on a compensation case, Justice Madraiwiwi referred to the provisions of the 1997 Constitution on protection against compulsory acquisition of property. On the 1997 Constitution, he stated:

"True it is that the military government purported to abrogate the same [1997 Constitution] by virtue of Decree No. 1 of 2000 on 29 May 2000. However, the legality of that action and instrument is precisely before the court for adjudication. In the absence of a definitive pronouncement, this court will assume that the Constitution is extant on the basis that there have yet to be any judicial findings otherwise."

The very clear statements on the 1997 Constitution is seen as a vindication of the views of the People's Coalition as well as a majority of the citizens of Fiji.

Meanwhile, the military's Lt. Col. Filipo Tarakinikini has been quoted by the Fiji Times (24 Oct) as telling an audience of the Australia-Fiji Business Council in Queensland Australia that the 1997 Constitution was good for Fiji. He said: "The coup . was not really against the 1997 Constitution but actually had its roots dating back to the precedent set in 1987".

The People's Coalition has filed numerous cases in the Fijian courts challenging the actions of the military and the interim administrators.

END

Government Revenue Severely Reduced

Issue No: 147; 26 October 2000

The revenue for the government has been severely reduced this year due to the activities of the terrorists and the interim government.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, Niko Bulai has been quoted in today's Fiji Times (26 Oct) as saying that the political crisis has severely reduced government revenue and placed the economy in a downward spiral. He further stated that the government had no choice but to cut expenditure.

Expenditure cuts have seen significant reductions in the allocations for the education and health sectors. The regime is preparing year 2001's budget, which is to be announced next week.

END Criticism of Constitution Commissioners not allowed –Regime

Issue No: 146; 25 October 2000

The regime has taken steps to gag criticism of its Constitution Commissioners.

In a press statement taken out today, the regime stated that its "Constitution Commission has expressed grave concern at insulting language, aspersions and innuendoes directed at the Indo-Fijian Commissioners in some of the articles published and broadcast by the media recently."

The Commission claimed that under Fiji's Commissions of Inquiry Act Cap.47 Section 16, it is "an offence for any person to use threatening or insulting language to a Commissioner". The regime asked the media "desist from publishing or broadcasting future insulting references to any Commissioner or face legal action".

The Constitution Commissioners have come under massive criticism on various accounts, including, bias, racism, incompetence, non-representativeness, etc. The Commission Chairperson, Asesela Ravuvu was attacked today in the Daily Post by democracy campaigner, Jone Dakuvula. So were members Rakuita Vakalalabure, Berenado Vunibobo, and Litia Cabokau. The ethnic Indian members of the Commission have been rejected by the ethnic Indian community as non-representative. Letters to the newspaper also accused the ethnic Indian members of selling ethnic Indian rights, and their souls for a few dollars.

Legal opinion holds that first, the Commission of Inquiry Act is not relevant in this case, and second, that s46 does not stop criticism of the Commissioners either in public or in private. That the regime can stoop so low as to try to stop criticism of the Commissioner members by incorrectly relying on an existing legislation indicates not only the extremely shallow legal expertise it has and advice which it is getting, but also shows that the regime is desperately trying to salvage the reputation of the Commission.

END

Web site - People's Coalition Government

The Peoples Coalition announces that its web site is now up and running. The site address is:

www.pcgov.org.fj

Some construction work is still ongoing, but most of the current material is already on the site. Your suggestions to improve the site are welcomed.

END

26 October 2000


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