27 May 2003

Fiji government considers referendum on constitution

10:26 am on 27 May 2003

The Fiji government is considering using a referendum to change the 1997 constitution.

Radio Fiji says this has been disclosed by the attorney general, Qoroniasi Bale.

The Qarase government doesn't have the numbers in parliament to make any constitutional changes, which require a two-thirds majority.

The military attempted to abrogate the constitution after the coup in 2000 but this was ruled illegal and the Court of Appeal upheld the constitution.

The post-coup interim administration also set up a constitution review committee but the High Court stopped its work by ruling it illegal.

Attorney general Bale says there is no provision in the 1997 constitution providing for an alternative process to amend the constitution.

He says they are trying to convince the Labour Party to agree to the implementation of a Referendum Act.

Talks on the issue have been suspended until next month's sitting of the Supreme Court which is to decide on Labour's inclusion in a multi-party cabinet as provided for in the constitution.