10 Jan 2013

Amending decree, Fiji orders new draft constitution

6:36 pm on 10 January 2013

The Fiji interim government has dumped the draft constitution it commissioned last year and given its legal team until the end of the month to produce a new one.

This was announced by the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, in a joint broadcast address with the president, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Ratu Epeli says he has approved a decree amendment to change the process which originally provided for the draft given to him last month to be debated by a Constituent Assembly this week.

He says Fiji has to break with its past and ensure that unelected people no longer make decisons for the general public.

Ratu Epeli has rejected the idea of a transitional government in the lead-up to the promised election because it could include corrupt former civil servants.

Commodore Bainimarama says by Tuesday a decree will be issued that governs the registration of political parties.

He says the new document has to ensure equal citizenry with one value.

"The new draft should be available for deliberation by the end of January 2013. Prior to that, and upon my return from the G77 meeting, I shall send out invitations to various individuals and organisations to participate in the Constituent Assembly."

Commodore Bainimarama made no mention of the immunity provisions for coup makers which have been a key issue in the submissions to the Constitution Commission which had been chaired by Yash Ghai.

His draft was based on 7,000 submissions amounting to the most comprehensive stock-take of people's concerns and aspirations in years.