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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Fiji Constitution To Be Drafted Without Public Consultation
Constituency Assembly will make decisions over initial draft

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 5, 2012) – Fiji’s Government has ruled out any public consultation on the draft Constitution which is expected to be ready next month.

This follows amendments to the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) decree with the phrase "or the hearing of views on the draft Constitution" being removed.

Attorney General and Minister for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum denied the changes stem from Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s capacity as a former consultant for the Constitution Commission.

Rather, he told FijiLive the amendment was done because the Commission had traveled quite widely throughout Fiji and had received a significant number of submissions directly from the public.

"The whole intention is that once the draft is put together by the Constitution Commission with the explanatory note then it goes up to the His Excellency the President of Fiji and the President will then put it to the Constituent Assembly," Sayed-Khaiyum said. "The Constituent Assembly is made up of Fijians who represent different sectional groups in Fiji whether be it women’s organization or maritime authorities and that is where they will debate the draft Constitution and then it will be put together by the Constituent Assembly."

He called for the five-member Commission to declare Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s salary during his term as a consultant.

"Before the Decree was amended, it clearly stated that there needs to be an audited account of the Commission as the provision was there. Now the amendment to the Decree says that there should now be a publication of the Commission’s account made public on a monthly basis for the few months that is left for the Commission," Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Sections 7, 10 and 12 of Decree No. 64 have been amended.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Commission Chairman Yash Ghai has hit out against criticism for retaining Ratu Joni, saying Ratu Joni was not paid on the day he reportedly participated in a comment submission before the commission. Ratu Joni also told the commission he intended on making a claim before the submission date. The government, however, maintains Ratu Joni’s consultancy was a breach of the decree establishing the non-negotiable principles guiding the commission’s work. Fiji’s Citizen’s Constitutional Forum has expressed support for Ratu Joni, who they claim is being targeted by the regime.]

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