14 Jan 2013

Fiji regime says Assembly interest strong, only one withdrawal

3:57 pm on 14 January 2013

The Fiji interim government says amid the controversy over last week's decision to commission a new draft constitution, one application for the Constituent Assembly has been withdrawn.

The Prime Minister's Office Permanent Secretary, Lieutenant Colonel Pio Tikoduadua, says applications are still coming in by people wishing to join the Assembly which is expected to begin sitting next month.

He says it has to be representative of Fiji society and could have about 30 members, reflecting the size of parliament proposed in a government submission.

"The advertisement had already closed about a week and a half ago but applications are still coming in. Some of these things take time to come via the post, so we're giving a certain level of discretion on them."

Lieutenant Colonel Tikoduadua says the leader of the United People's Party, Mick Beddoes, will be asked to join the assembly which is to sit for up to six weeks to approve the constitution.

He notes that neither the Methodist and Catholic churches nor top chiefs applied for Assembly membership.