27 May 2003

Fiji Labour party opposes holding of referendum on constitution

4:14 pm on 27 May 2003

The Labour party in Fiji says it is opposed to the government holding a referendum on changing the 1997 constitution.

The government does not have the two-thirds majority required in parliament to amend the constitution and it's now been proposed by the attorney-general, Qoroniasi Bale, that a Referendum act should be introduced.

Labour's Gaffar Ahmed says the party is totally opposed to a referendum being held.

"There is no need for a referendum...a referendum for what? because even if there is a need, if the government feels there is something that they need to change in the constitution....it is something that they can bring up through the process of parliament...Referendum will be something new in Fiji. This process, I don't think that it will be accepted by marjority of the people in our country."

Mr Ahmed says a small pocket of people want all the top posts held by indigenous Fijians which the constitution doesn't allow so this is why they're pushing to have a referendum held.

He says the government did mention the issue of a referendum but talks between the two sides have been shelved until after the Supreme court case on whether Labour should be included in the cabinet.