1 Nov 2002

Fiji Government plans constitutional changes

5:09 pm on 1 November 2002

The Fiji Government is preparing a bill to change certain non-controversial sections of the 1997 Constitution which it believes are hindering its work.

The Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has told Radio Fiji's Fijian language netork that the Attorney General is preparing the bill which is expected to be ready before the end of the year.

Mr Qarase says he hopes to have the bill debated in Parliament next year and adds that he does not see any problems as the Fiji Labour Party had proposed the same amendments while it was in government.

He says the draft bill may have to go through the Great Council of Chiefs if it affects the indigenous Fijian people.

Mr Qarase says the Government is also considering amending the controversial sections of the constitution affecting land, elections and the multi party cabinet.

He says a commission may have to be set up to look at these sections and discuss them with all sections of the community.

Mr Qarase sas the commission's report will then go to Parliament but he admits it will be difficult to make these changes as they do not have the numbers in the House.

Mr Qarase's earlier attempt to change the constitution when he was interim Prime Minister was brought to a halt when the High Court declared his commission illegal.