14 Jun 2004

Fij's Prime Minister under attack after calling for the 1997 constitution to be changed

3:41 pm on 14 June 2004

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has come under scathing attack for saying that the 1997 constitution is a failure because of its multi-party provisions and should be changed.

Mr Qarase has told the annual conference of the Fiji Law Society that the continuous filing of litigation in courts is a sign the constitution has failed and it out of touch with reality.

But, the Fiji Times quotes the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, as saying the concept of power sharing is central to the constitution and the prime minister must comply.

Mr Chaudhry says the policies of the SDL government on its own have been a failure and have driven more people into poverty.

The opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says it's not the constitution which is a failure, but the leaders of the political parties who have failed.

Professor Yash Ghai of Hong Kong, who had substantial input into the Fiji Constitution, says the concept of power sharing can only work if leaders adopt a conciliatory approach.

Professor Ghai says most times politicians prefer people to be divided to protect their status in society.