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Four Main Parties In Fiji Poll Back Constitution

Published: Sun 26 Aug 2001 02:20 PM
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Four Main Parties In Fiji Poll Back Constitution
http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/wansolnews/wansol2508012.html
By ATERINA SAMASONI: August 25, 2001 Wansolwara Online (USP)
SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Four of Fiji's major political parties contesting the general election beginning today still support the 1997 constitution as the supreme law of the land, according to a citizens advocacy group.
But Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) executive director Rev Akuila Yabaki today warned the successful party not to rush towards a review of the 1997 constitution.
Rev Yabaki said that rushing a review would "root out a tender young coconut".
"You have to let it grow, as it will then reproduce with multiple benefits for all the citizens of Fiji," he said.
The CCF has just conducted an analysis of party manifestos and their positions on the constitution.
In a statement today, the CCF reported that the Fiji Labour Party (FLP), New Labour Unity Party (NLUP), Nationalist Federation Party (NFP) and the Fijian Association Party (FAP) were looking to minor amendments of the constitution but showed full support of the document.
The survey also found that the two major indigenous parties, the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) and Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT), were campaigning in favour of a complete review of the 1997 constitution.
This meant the abolition of the 1997constitution or major sections being amended, reported the CCF.
The Conservative Alliance, which backs coup frontman George Speight, also supported amendments to the constitution, the CCF said.
The United General Voters party believed the section on indigenous rights in the constitution needed to be reviewed while the General Voters Party agreed with the approach of the larger parties.
On the first day of voting today, radio reports said several delays caused disappointment to voters.
FM96 reported that one major delay was in Lau province when the boat carrying election officials arrived hours late.
According to FM 96, most voters were asking election officials to speed up the process to avoid long queues.
In an editorial, the Fiji Times said this election looked like a peaceful one with supervision by unarmed security forces.
It said it hoped the "readiness" of the military would not need to be tested.
Commenting on voting delays, the paper said: "If the 1999experience is anything to go by, voters may face frustration in various forms in the coming week. Mostly it will be caused by long waits at polling stations.
"But if the nation can vote in peace it will be worth the wait."
The Fiji Sun said the people of Fiji deserved a pat on their back for the election.
"For during those dark days of madness and terror triggered by the May 19 coup, no one would have thought that we would come this far."
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