11 Jan 2013

Little surprise over Fiji regime dumping constitution draft

3:32 pm on 11 January 2013

A leading women's advocate in Fiji says she and others in civil society organisations are surprised the regime waited so long to derail the constitution-making process.

The interim government has dumped the draft constitution produced by Professor Yash Ghai's Constitution Commission and given its legal team until the end of the month to produce a new one.

Shamima Ali of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre says the completion of the draft constitution had eased the anxiety of those people with faith in the process that the regime would derail it somehow.

But she says she and others knew intervention was inevitable.

"We were going to wait until the Consitutent Assembly had done its work and then the Gates committee would have done their work and then we knew that something would happen at that point in time. That there might be a rejection or semi rejection of the draft constitution. But this has happened before they could announce the Constituent Assembly."

Shamima Ali says in going back on its commitments, the regime is doing exactly what it has criticised others for.

The president of Fiji's United People's Party says he also is not surprised the regime has dumped the draft constitution it commissioned last year.

Mick Beddoes says he believes this is what the interim government has been planning all along.

That there is a plan to making wholesale changes to the Yash Ghai draft, what I didn't know is how they would do it and here they are intercepting it before it even gets to the Constituent Assembly, so I'm not surprised this is exactly I envisaged that they would do.

Mick Beddoes says he expects to meet party colleagues in the next few days to discuss the latest developments.

The Fiji Labour Party says the draft constitution was trashed for the regime to retain power.

It says yesterday was a day of shame, describing the regime move as a travesty and a fraud on the people of Fiji.

It notes that the draft, which has been dumped, is a forward looking document that aims at stamping out Fiji's coup culture.

The Labour Party says the entire process was simply a ruse to prolong the rule of those in power under the guise of restoring democracy and constitutionality.

It says most regrettable of all is the fact that the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has allowed himself to be drawn into this subterfuge.

It also says there is a public perception that the current regime is the most corrupt administration Fiji has ever known.