28 Jul 2003

New Fiji parliamentary session opens

5:00 pm on 28 July 2003

Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, has opened a new session of parliament to outline the government's policies for the coming year.

The opening went ahead today despite calls by political parties and NGOs to put it off until a new muti-party government has been formed because the current one is unconstitutional.

President Iloilo said the current Supreme Court ordered talks on a multi-party government will strengthen democracy and national stability.

He said at a later stage the government would pursue substantive constitutional changes but he did not give details.

Outlining all aspects of state activities, President Iloilo said the government would give priority to resolving expiring land lease problems and revitalising the sugar industry.

As well, the government is working to set up an Indigenous Land Claims Tribunal to resolve outstanding claims by indigenous landowners.

President Iloilo said the government will continue with its affirmative actions programmes for indigenous Fijians in education and training, land and housing, employment and increased activity in the commercial sector.

An emotional President Iloilo said that during the recent South Pacific Games, for one brief moment all the people of the country stood together as Team Fiji and he appealed for the same spirit in the cause of finding national solutions.