21 Mar 2013

Draft Fiji constitution but no to Constituent Assembly

9:55 pm on 21 March 2013

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has reneged on his commitment to appoint a Constituent Assembly to debate the draft constitution.

In a televised address, Commodore Bainimarama said he was going straight to Fijians for their feedback on the draft instead of letting a constituent assembly consider the final version.

He said the change had been prompted by the failings of political parties.

The public would have until 5 April to give feedback on the draft constitution.

Commodore Bainimarama says the new document, which will come into force a week later, provides for a 45-member parliament to be elected for a four-year term. He says it will guarantee civil, political, social and human rights and once implemented will only be able to be changed by a referendum.

In his address he also said the interim government will honour the deadlines it set for the constitution to be ready by next month and democratic elections to be held by September 2013.

The Constituent Assembly was to sit at the beginning of January, but Commodore Bainimarama failed to appoint one, and a week later the regime asked the political parties to re-register. None of them has been approved.