Fiji interim government defends constitution drafting process | Pacific Beat

Fiji interim government defends constitution drafting process

Fiji interim government defends constitution drafting process

Updated 11 January 2013, 11:35 AEST

The statements by Fiji President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama criticising the draft constitution prepared by Professor Yash Ghai have been criticised by civic and political leaders around the region.

Amongst the criticisms are that Fiji's leadership was not pleased with recommendations that removed the power and influence of the military

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Pio Tikoduadua, Permanent Secretary Department of Prime Minister Fiji

TIKODUADUA: Well, I think those criticisms misplaced, I think the reasons given to relook at the draft Constitution and make those recommendations are already given and there is a reasonable briefing for it and given the shortcomings of what the Ghai Report had come up with. So I think the critics are probably unwarranted yeah.

COONEY: Alright. Is there things that the interim government does like though in the recommendations by Professor Guy that will be implemented in that in the final?

TIKODUADUA: Well, they will be discussed and I think that's the word, yeah.

COONEY: They will be discussed. So there will be some things in it that certainly will be adopted as part of that?

TIKODUADUA: Well, both of the draft will be discussed and that was made known yesterday to.

COONEY: Alright. So what's the process from now on?

TIKODUADUA: I think in terms of the time line mentioned yesterday, we have until February to put the Constituent Assembly together and the draft Constitution will be given to it and we will have a new Constitution come the end of March-April.

COONEY: That's a pretty quick timeline, you're confident that that's enough time to get everything on board?

TIKODUADUA: The consultation program had taken quite awhile. This is not our first Constitution. A lot of consultation has already been made. The members of the Constituent Assembly would have already participated in this process and would have something to say, given that they before that had already made submissions, most of them have. So a lot of the discussions has already been made, so I don't think the timeline should be an issue.

COONEY: OK. If that final Constitution comes out and it differs significantly from the draft that has been made public online and I know that their copies have been kept, but it's been widely read and distributed online. It's likely that you're going to cop a fair bit of criticism again. Are you prepared to accept that as long as you get what you feel is right for the country?

TIKODUADUA: I think the people of Fiji are going to sit down with their representative in the Constituent Assembly and come up with a document based on the outcomes of their debate and that outcome, our Constitution irrespective of what it might be is that is out of what the representatives had put together. So whatever comes out of that is something that the representative of the people in the Constituent Assembly have come up with, so they would have defend it, yeah.

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