10 Jan 2013

Fiji regime signals delay for Constituent Assembly

3:49 pm on 10 January 2013

The Fiji interim government has signalled a delay in the constitutional process.

The Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, Colonel Pio Tikoduadua, has told FBC News that the Constituent Assembly is expected to sit by mid-February.

According to the decree the regime issued last July, the Assembly is to hold its first sitting by the second week of January to discuss the draft constitution.

No reason has been given for the apparent delay, but an announcement by the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and the interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama is due to be made tonight.

Colonel Tikoduadua says he hopes Commodore Bainimarama will be in a position to finalise the members of the Constituent Assembly.

He says his office is still working through 300 applications from people interested in joining the Assembly.

Its size and composition will be determined by Commodore Bainimarama.

Colonel Tikoduadua says starting the debate in mid-February should still give the Assembly six weeks to finalise the draft.

The chair of the commission, which produced the draft constitution, Professor Yash Ghai, says the documents that the Assembly members have to read, understand and debate are long and complex.