Fiji essay is taboo. Do not discuss

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Suva (AP) - The Fijian government has banned an essay competition organised by the British Embassy in Suva because it says the contest disregards sensitivities over a proposed new constitution.

The essay competition for sixth-formers had as its prize two round-the- world tickets for the winning writers, and was backed by the Fiji Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The topic was: "How will your future be affected by Fiji's constitution?"

Fiji's constitution is under review and the commission appointed to reconsider it is expected to table its recommendation to the Fijian head of state, President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, at the end of this month.

The permanent secretary for information, Jioji Kotobalavu, said the government, while not opposed to essay competitions, was not happy with this one because it involved "two foreign organisations insensitive to local politics".

Fiji was thrown out of the Commonwealth after two racially inspired military coups in 1987.

Mr Kotobalavu said the British embassy and the Fiji Times should have been sensitive enough to know that the constitution was under review.

"It's just proper that we allow the commission to do its work without undue pressure," he told the Fiji Times.

"We have expressed reservations because students who are eligible are preparing for examinations and they should be allowed to prepare instead of being sidetracked by complex and complicated issues like the constitution."

Vineeta Kumar, the British embassy's information officer, said the embassy had no comment.