Opinion – Rajend Naidu
We learn from Asia pacific editor Rowan Callick’s article ‘military rewrites new Fiji charter (the Australian 11/1) that the Fijian government will rewrite the draft constitution after unceremoniously dumping the draft made by the internationally …Fiji Military Government To Make New Constitution
We learn from Asia pacific editor Rowan Callick’s article ‘military rewrites new Fiji charter (the Australian 11/1) that the Fijian government will rewrite the draft constitution after unceremoniously dumping the draft made by the internationally renowned constitution expert it had engaged to do the job.
The Constitution commission chaired by Professor Yash Ghai “worked through 7000 submissions and meetings throughout Fiji last year” to produce his draft ” but last month police burnt proofs and seized 599 copies of the draft, as Prof. Ghai watched[impotently]“.
Now the government’s legal team will ” finalise a new constitution within three weeks – and may be expected to reflect substantially [wholly?] the army’s own submission to the commission that wrote the draft”.
This strange turn of events raises some perplexing questions.
Why was the constitution expert of international fame engaged in the first place? Was it a masquerade, a front to gain international funding support and international approval for the legitimacy of the constitution making process? Many critics have pointed this out to be the case from the very outset.
Where is the sense in spending so much time, energy, money and resources on making a draft constitution only to trash it upon its completion?
Why has the Fiji Military government trashed Prof. Ghai’s draft constitution?
Is it because it did not accord the Fiji military the status it sought in the new constitution and the new framework of governance of the country?
Was Prof. Ghai’s draft consigned to the rubbish heap because it sided with the people of Fiji and their call for democracy rather then with the military and its demand for the concentration of power in its hands?
So what kind of constitution can the government’s own legal team come up with? The kind the Fiji military and it’s commander Frank Bainimarama ( the 2006 coup leader) now overlapping as Prime Minister wants. That’s not such a difficult thing to deduce, is it?
The people of Fiji and the international community are entitled to honest answers to these questions – and more.