21 Feb 2007

Military bid to change Fiji constitution termed illegal

2:46 pm on 21 February 2007

One of the authors of Fiji's constitution says moves by the military-backed government to review the document and remove race-based voting are illegal.

Dr Brij Lal made the comment after the interim cabinet met yesterday to discuss plans to return Fiji to democracy within three years.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says parts of the 1997 constitution will be reviewed to eliminate separate race-based rolls and racially classified votes.

But Dr Lal says under the Westminster system only an elected parliament has the legal authority to make changes to the constitution.

"The question that needs to be asked is whether the interim administration has the power and the moral and legal authority to make these changes. There are provisions in the constitution for amending it and these have to be followed. So any change will have to be done on the floor of the house and not by decree."

He says that while the interim administration claims to have the mandate of the president, the executive normally acts only on the advice of an elected government.