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Fiji AG says ousted judges to be replaced next week

[JURIST] Fijian Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said Friday that the government would name new judges [RNZ audio] to replace those discharged following the suspension [JURIST report] of the country's constitution by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo [official profile] two weeks ago. Speaking to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Khaiyum said that the Fiji government anticipates having judges appointed by next week [AP report], although the country's high court would likely remain closed for close to one month. Following the suspension of the constitution, Iloilo dismissed the judges and imposed restrictions on domestic and international media outlets. Iloilo also reappointed the head of the Fijian military Commodore Josaia Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama [BBC profile] as prime minister [JURIST report], a move which was condemned [ABC report] by the UN and members of the Australian government, including Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd [official profile].

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Iloilo to reinstate the deposed judges [JURIST report]. Earlier that week, members of Fiji's Law Society [organization website] called for deposed judges to remain in office [JURIST report] and resist the current military regime's attempts to oust them. Turmoil has built since the Court of Appeal of Fiji declared [JURIST report] that the appointment of the military government following a 2006 coup d'etat [JURIST report] that ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [BBC profile] was unconstitutional. Concerns about the constitutional suspension have also been expressed [statement text] by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US State Department [official website] spokesperson Richard Aker, who said that it was a step backwards [press release] for the country, and called on Fiji to continue to recognize rights outlined in the suspended constitution.

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