3 Sep 2004

Senator initiates moves to try and overturn Fiji's non-racial constitution

3:24 pm on 3 September 2004

A Fiji government senator has moved a motion in the Upper House aimed at overturning the 1997 Constitution.

The constitution was unanimously passed by both Houses of Parliament and the Great Council of Chiefs.

But Apisai Tora has called on the prime minister to ask President Iloilo to set up a commission of inquiry to look into the "validity or otherwise" of the 1997 Constitution and "the processes that led to its presence."

Senator Tora says "if the commission finds that the processes were illegal and invalid," then the matter can be put to the people in a referendum.

He says the majority of indigenous Fijian people did not want the 1997 Constitution and the SVT government which brought it in was voted out in the 1999 election.

Senator Tora say an overwhelming majority of the indigenous people did not want any change to the 1990 Constitution.

That constitution, which was imposed by decree, had racially weighted electoral provisions and reserved all key positions in the government for indigenous Fijians only.

The president of the Senate, Taito Waqavakatoga, has deferred debate on Senator Tora's motion to the next sitting of the Upper House in October.