Fiji to return parliament to colonial building in downtown Suva
Fiji's next parliament will sit in a legislative chamber that has been used for that purpose in about 20 years.
The Fiji government is returning the country's parliament to its original site near the centre of Suva.
The legislature, due to resume sitting for the first time in eight years after an election planned for September, will return to the colonial style Government Buildings.
In 1987 the building was stormed by the then Fiji army colonel Sitiveni Rabuka beginning the first of the four coups the country experienced over the subsequent 19 years.
Our correspondent Ricardo Morris, told Don Wiseman that these events led to a new complex, which strongly reflected Fijian tradition and culture, being built at Veiuto near the Domain in Suva.
RICARDO MORRIS: Well, yes it was last used as a parliamentary complex in 1987 and I think Fijians were so shocked by the coup I think the powers at be at the time deemed a clean start was what was required, which was when the new parliamentary block was designed and built in the early 1990s up at Veiuto, near the Domain.
DW: And what's the reason for coming back?
RM: The reason for coming back now, the Attorney-General says, is they want the public to be able to listen to proceedings and see how parliament works and how their representatives are at work, so that is the reason for bringing it back into government buildings in Suva.
DW: What's the building like in terms of public spaces for people to watch and listen?
RM: In terms of space, it's not very big. It is usually the site of court cases, when high profile cases are going on, they are usually held there, at the moment it is the Supreme Court room but I am sure renovations will begin soon to upgrade the space to allow the parliamentarians and public access but in terms of public access there will be no doubt that it will be easier for members of the public to just walk in off the road and walk in to listen to proceedings. Because already it is the site of the magistrate, the high court and all the other courts in Suva so it is already quite a busy and popular location so it will mean a lot more people will be able to listen to parliamentary proceedings.
DW: I guess Fiji's in straitened financial circumstances. This is yet another expense. Are people going to be happy with the move?
RM: Well, I guess it is too early to say whether people will be happy or not with the move. The parliamentary complex as it is now, up at Veiuto, is already being used as offices for various government departments but it is too early to say how people will react and whether it will be positive or negative.
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