21 Mar 2013

Fiji regime dumps plans for Constituent Assembly, releases new draft

7:43 pm on 21 March 2013

The Fiji prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has reneged on his commitment to appoint a Constituent Assembly to debate the draft constitution paving the way elections next year.

In a televised address, he announced there would be no Assembly but instead the new draft would be released immediately to allow the public to give feedback until April the 5th.

He says the new document, which will come into force a week later, provides for a 45-member unicameral parliament to be elected for a four-year term.

Commodore Bainimarama also says the new constitution will allow for amendments by referendum.

By decree the Constituent Assembly was to sit at the beginning of January, but he failed to appoint one.

A week later, the regime asked the political parties to re-register.

While none of them has been approved, Commodore Bainimarama now blames them for scrapping the Assembly.

"Unfortunately this modification has been forced upon us by the lack of commitment by the political parties to register under the requirements of the law. There are allegations of fraud and impersonation. This does not provide a conducive climate to hold a Constituent Assembly."

Commodore Bainimarama says feedback on the new draft can be sent to an address which will be announced in the next few days.