30 Jan 2004

Fiji to look at constitutional changes

8:30 am on 30 January 2004

The Fiji government is expected to set up a multi-party committee next week to consider what it says are non-controversial changes to the 1997 Constitution.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, says ambiguities and interpretation problems have made some provisions of the constitution difficult to apply.

The deputy leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Krishna Datt, says the special committee will need to seek legal opinion over the proposed changes.

"The point is that we will have to first go to the people and to the interested parties to determine that they are indeed non-controversial. What meets the eye is not necessarily what may meet the legal eye. So in view of those people who have been involved in this process for a long time, it does appear at this stage that they may be posing some administrative difficulties in running the government smoothly."

Mr Datt says that if the Labour Party is satisfied the changes are non-controversial, it will not oppose a bill which the government is proposing to introduce the amendments.

He says he believes the changes are the same as those proposed by his party while it was in government.

He says that it is unlikely the bill will be introduced before the middle of the year.

Meanwhile, the government is also likely to form a special committee to look at amendments to land legislation.