12 Oct 2012

Fiji unions restate doubts about need for new constitution

1:23 pm on 12 October 2012

The Fiji Trades Union Congress has reiterated doubts about the constitution-making process in its formal submission to the country's Constitution Commission.

The Congress says the process is flawed and has been marked by a lack of open debate.

Sally Round reports.

"The umbrella body describes an unprecedented level of fear, intimidation and disinterest among citizens during submission hearings. It says there is no need for a new constitution, and recommends amendments to the 1997 one, which was abrogated by the regime three years ago. Among its proposals are a 41 seat parliament based on the principle of one person one vote and equally divided constituencies, as well as an upper house of 21 members. It also suggests political parties be regulated to ensure racial diversity. It says the military should be subservient to the government and parliament of the day but have no political role as should the Great Council of Chiefs, scrapped under the current regime. The regime has decreed immunity for coup-makers under the new constitution, but the FTUC says they should instead test their cases in court or by referendum as carte blanche immunity will not bring an end to coups. The FTUC wants the current leadership to give up its role three months before elections scheduled for September 2014."