7 Nov 2012

Wide condemnation of Fiji regime changes to constitution process

2:53 pm on 7 November 2012

Regime critics and some political parties in Fiji have attacked the regime over changes to Fiji's plan for a new constitution.

Among changes are scrapping the plan for public debate on the draft and taking away the commission's capacity to review existing laws.

Sally Round reports.

"The regime says the draft will now go straight to the Constituent Assembly for debate. This and the regime's criticism of commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai has drawn the ire of critics including the Fiji Labour Party. Its leader Mahendra Chaudhry told Radio Tarana that the Fiji regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama must step down and Fiji people must have a constitution they support: ' Bainimarama is I think afraid of this and this is why he's trying to threaten Professor Ghai and disrupt the whole constitution process.' Mr Chaudhry says it is now obvious that the constitution process is being engineered to suit the regime's agenda. He says the regime wants to shut down debate after overwhelming public rejection of immunity for coup-makers, already decreed for the new constitution. Mick Beddoes of the United People's Party says the regime is trying to slip in amendments which shut out the people from any further involvement with the constitutional process. The Fiji Trades Union Congress says the changes are blatant interference and severely restrict the commission, which it says has been treated with contempt. It fears more sanctions from the international community which it says has placed a lot of faith in the process. New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says he's watching developments closely and hopes the parties will work through their differences."