11 Jan 2013

Fiji PM calls on politicians to join constituent assembly - if invited

11:39 am on 11 January 2013

Fiji's Prime Minister has called on political parties to continue to be involved in the country's constitutional process.

The interim government has dumped the draft constitution it commissioned last year and given its legal team until the end of the month to produce a new one.

It says the draft will then go to a constituent assembly for debate, and a new constitution should be in place by March.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says all those who are invited to be members of the Constituent Assembly should participate.

"This is not a time for point-scoring or thinking only about our individual interests, but to think about the future. It is a time to think about our country. To think about our children. To think about development. To think about improving the lives of our citizens."

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says the copies of the earlier draft that were printed by the Ghai Commission, and confiscated by the regime, will be distributed during the Constituent Assembly process.

The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, says the dumping of the draft constitution is a major step backwards.

This is not flash, it's a backwards step of some proportions, but it's been the history of this whole process. This is not going to be a simple straight line towards elections and international credibility, there were always going to be steps forward and steps backward. This is rather larger as a step backward than I think any of us feel comfortable with.

Murray McCully says New Zealand will however continue to help ensure there are fair and democratic elections next year, rather than walking away.