2 Oct 2007

Constitutional expert says Fiji military regime will face difficulties changing voting methods

8:30 pm on 2 October 2007

A leading New Zealand constitutional lawyer says Fiji's military regime will face major legal difficulties if it tries to change the constitution.

The interim Prime Minister Commodore Bainamarama has told the UN General Assembly that he intends replacing race based voting in Fiji with a new system of one person, one vote and voting for one candidate only.

He says in the absence of an elected parliament they may look at having the people voice their opinions on any change in a public referendum.

New Zealand constitutional lawyer, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, says he does not believe the problem can be solved this way.

"Having a referendum may give some legitimacy to this, but the problem at the moment is that the government is a military dictatorship. Elsewhere in the speech the Commodore says, you might see me as the military leader who removed the elected government. I cannot begrudge that, because that indeed is a fact, he told the General Assembly of the United nations - and that's the problem. The central legal problem is that."