22 Jun 2012

Questions in Fiji over path to 2014 elections

10:13 am on 22 June 2012

The regime in Fiji has launched a campaign to register voters and work is about to start on the country's fourth constitution.

While many hope elections will happen in 2014 as promised, critics say there are still many unanswered questions.

Government buildings in Fiji.

Government buildings in Fiji. Photo: RNZ - Insight

" Everyone's Fijian" is a crucial part of the message on TV and the internet as the regime urges people to register to vote.

Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says any system of voting based on ethnicity, such as the communal voting of the past, will not be allowed in the new constitution.

The regime tore up Fiji's third constitution three years ago after the courts decided the 2006 military take-over was illegal.

There have been four coups in less than 20 years.

Radio New Zealand International reports that those involved in trying to educate, especially the young, about constitutional matters and elections say that getting people to speak up and say what sort of democracy they want is already proving a big challenge.

The regime has scoffed at suggestions the army's role in registering voters threatens the whole process.

Peter Waqavonovono of the Young People's Concerned Network says it is important to be positive, but he knows many people who won't be taking part in consultations on the constitution.

But Reverend Akuila Yabaki of the Citizens Constitutional Forum says taking part is vital.

Some say the regime is already stifling debate, with restrictions still on political gatherings, and top military figures speaking out against politicians and women's groups in the media.

More about Fiji's path to a new constitution can be heard on Insight on Sunday.