PM and President address and the Draft Constitution
Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua SDL PARTY A Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Fiji
PRESS RELEASE, 12th Jan
The action of the Bainimarama Regime to amend the Draft of the Constitution Commission prior to it being discussed at the Constituent Assembly as outlined in the Joint Address of the President and the Prime Minister of the Military Regime on Thursday January 10this unacceptable.
The plan of action they outlined is outside the scope of the of the two relevant decrees (Decrees 57& 58) which provided the initial framework of actions that guide the whole process of current constitutional work The reasons provided for such extraordinary actions were allegedly about ‘the neglect of fundamental principles’ by the Ghai Commission. This is nothing more than an insult to the intelligence of men and women in this country who have followed the YashGhai Commission’s work and who by now, know that it is one of the most innovative constitutions ever written for multi ethnic communities thus far.It is certainly so, for Fiji!
The attempt to insert into this innovative document some of the Regime’s views and imprints will undermine the logic, principles and unity of the document and its attempt to reflect correctly the views of all the people in Fiji as seen by a team representing some of the top professionals in this field of which both Professors YashGhai and Christina Murray are members.
The people of Fiji have the right to know from the President and the Head of the Military Regime, why the Draft document which was meant to be circulated and discussed with the people as part of the public education process, as initially required was confiscated?
This is an important feature of constitution making process, and the people of Fiji who participated in coming forward with their views with full understanding that this would be so. The public seminars sponsored by the Commission with the cooperation of our local and regional universities and NGO’s, were well attended. But the people were denied the final and perhaps the most crucial part of the process, in not discussing with the Commissioners, the Draft document itself. This point is so crucial in ensuring that the final constitutional document is understood and accepted by the people. In fact, the life or longevity of the constitution depends on it.
The intended action of the Military Regime is a slap in the face of all right thinking people of this country. It is an affront to our intelligence as ordinary citizens and to the International standing of the Com missioners.
The Regime should circulate the Ghai’s Draft without amendments and table the same in the Assembly. It should take its suggested changes to the Constitutional Assembly and let the people vote for each suggested amendment through secret ballot. Anything short of this would not be in line with peoples understanding of the so called ‘fundamental principles’ they were talking about in their Addresses to the Nation on Thursday night, January 10th,2013.
The SDL Party and its supporters will determine its participation in the light of the broader interest of all the people of Fiji along the lines of the Ghai Draft, and in accordance with the principles of democracy. It will not be involved in rubber stamping any self serving interest of a small group.
Dr Tupeni Baba
For and on behalf of the SDL Executive.