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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Fiji PM Calls On Public To Apply For Constituent Assembly
Applicants must be citizens with experience in public affairs

By Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 10, 2012) – Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is calling for expressions of interest from individuals and organizations who would like to become members of the Constituent Assembly that will debate and adopt the draft Constitution currently being prepared by the Constitution Commission.

The chairperson and members of the Assembly will be appointed by the Prime Minister under the relevant decree.

An advertisement will be published in the dailies tomorrow setting out the duties of the Assembly and the conditions under which its members will be appointed.

The function of the Assembly is to debate the draft Constitution and the Explanatory Report and adopt the draft Constitution.

In doing so, the Assembly is required to keep the people of Fiji fully informed of the progress of its deliberation.

The Assembly is required to observe the purpose of the Decree, which includes adherence to its non-negotiable principles and values such as the removal of ethnic voting, a common and equal citizenry and a secular state.

It is also required to incorporate appropriate provision for immunity, as set out in the Decree.

However, to be eligible for membership of the Assembly, a person must – quote – "be a citizen of Fiji; be a person of experience in public affairs; and must have utmost honesty and integrity in every respect."

Moreover, a person is not eligible to be appointed if that person is "declared to be of unsound mind; is convicted of an offence of dishonesty or an offence carrying a maximum penalty of six months in prison; or has been removed from public office for misconduct."

They are also required to adhere to a Code of Conduct that stipulates that all members of the Assembly must be guided by a commitment to the best interests of the nation and the Fijian people as a whole.

Expressions of interest – which the Government says will be treated in strict confidence – will close on New Year’s Eve, Monday December 31st.

The permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Pio Tikoduadua said they want as many qualified people and organizations as possible to join this very important step in implementing true parliamentary democracy in Fiji.

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