1 Feb 2012

Fiji constitution-makers urged to address role of military

9:12 am on 1 February 2012

One of the architects of Fiji's 1997 constitution, Bril Lal, says Fiji's new constitution-makers must address the role of the country's military in civilian life.

The Fiji interim government has promised that consultations for a new constitution will start in February in time for elections scheduled for 2014.

Mr Lal says the military is very much out in the community in Fiji and officers are serving in important civilian positions.

"And the question that has to be asked is what should be the role of a military force in a constitutional democracy? Should they be the servant of the state? Should they have a seat at the table of national decision-making? Should they have representation in Parliament?"

Brij Lal says unless Fiji people can speak freely during consultations, the issue will remain difficult to resolve.

Asked about the military's role in the new constitution, Fiji's Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has told Radio New Zealand International it is essential to get Fiji people's views.