Thursday, June 14, 2007

Churches want early return to democracy


Wednesday June 13, 2007

Fiji's largest Christian denomination, the Methodist Church and the Association of Christian Churches (ACCF) in their submission to the People's Charter have called on the interim regime to return the country to democracy as soon as possible.

"The nation and our people have suffered enough. It's only proper that the nation be returned to democratic rule of law at an early opportunity," they state in their submission.

The Methodist Church and ACCF also state that the interim regime has no mandate to implement policies as it did not have the mandate of the people.

"The policies should be left to elected members," they state.

The two also expressed concern with the legality of any policy measures affecting Fijian land and administration.

Lawyers upset over pressure on judge
Wednesday June 13, 2007

The Fiji Law Society is disappointed by the interim Attorney General's call for the resignation of an "esteemed" member of Fiji's judiciary, says society president Davenesh Sharma.

"The Law Society has full confidence on (Fiji Court of Appeal President) Justice Gordon Ward and his ability to lead Fiji's Court of Appeal," he said.

Interim AG Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Justice Ward had "compromised his position in the judiciary" by writing a letter to LAWASIA questioning why its president Mah Weng Kwai had taken the post of commissioner at the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

Sayed-Khaiyum said Justice Ward should immediately hand in his resignation and save "our judiciary and our nation at large from the onslaught waged by those such as him…".

In his first reaction to the issue that came to light last week, Sharma said while the society cannot comment on the sentiments of Justice Ward as an individual, they are very concerned with Sayed-Khaiyum's aggressive calls for his resignation.

He said the interim administration's interference into Fiji's judiciary is one observation that can be made from the AG's statement in the media.

Sharma also suggested that such calls could aggravate the current lack of senior judges in the judiciary and hasten the departure of those like Justice Ward whose contract expires next month.

"At this moment in time we need leadership of Justice Ward's quality in the Court of Appeals," he said.

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"The Interim AG's attack on Justice Ward comes at a time when judges should be encouraged to stay in Fiji's judiciary.

"We ought to do everything possible to keep dedicated and hardworking judges in the bench."

Justice Ward, in his letter to LAWASIA, had allegedly questioned the authority of Fiji's president Ratu Josefa Iloilo to make laws and the authority of FICAC.

He has since declined to contest Sayed-Khaiyum's calls for his resignation.

No interests in polls chief post
Wednesday June 13, 2007

The post of Fiji's Supervisor of Elections is to be re-advertised as no interests were shown when applications closed last week.

This has been attributed to poor publicity, said Rishi Ram, the chairman of the Constitutional Offices Commission, the appointing body.

Ram hopes to embark on a better advertising campaign soon.

No indication has been given on whether candidates will be sought from abroad.

Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Parmesh Chand said the post of Supervisor of Elections has to be filled by September 30 this year.

The former chief of elections Semesa Karavaki maintains that his removal is unconstitutional and has challenged the legality of finding his replacement.

Fiji's interim Government has been advised by a Pacific Island Forum technical team that it is possible to have elections in March, 2009.

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