6 Nov 2012

Fiji Constitution Commission Chairman denies breaking law over Madraiwiwi

12:56 pm on 6 November 2012

The Chairman of Fiji's Constitution Commission, Professor Yash Ghai, has denied regime claims that the constitution-making body broke the law by hiring Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as a consultant.

The prominent lawyer who was deposed as the country's vice president in the 2006 coup is the subject of the latest row between the regime and the Commission which is drafting a new constitution for Fiji before elections in two years' time.

The regime leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says Ratu Joni lent his name to a constitution submission calling for a Christian state defying the regime's impartiality rules for the body.

But Professor Ghai says that is not correct.

"There was a submission from the community in which he lives as a high chief. He felt he had to come with them to our hearing. He did not speak. He did not present it and even if he had that view everybody in Fiji has views on something or the other and if you were to exclude people who had a view on something then you wouldn't be left with any people to talk to, to seek assistance (from)."

Professor Ghai says the commission has used consultants of many different views and Ratu Joni may have been singled out by Commodore Bainimarama because he was upset at his support for the ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase in court recently.