Internal Discussions on the Constitution Must Start Now

Constitutional Awareness meetings have already commenced with meetings in the Suva-Nausori Corridor. The purpose of these village and settlement meetings seems to be to talk about what a constitution is, how important it is,  and the process for creating a constitution.  This CCF release concerns the promised "dialogue" that is due to start soon, probably towards the end of the month or early next.  I hope overseas politicians and media will keep closely tuned to the process as it unfolds.



Media Release Citizens Constitutional Forum

Now that CONSTITUTIONAL Awareness has begun CCF urges everyone to start preparing for the consultations in as far determining what they believe would be the most participatory process and also ideas around the content.

Prospective political parties, aspiring political leaders, and all citizens should start preparing themselves for the Constitution talks so that they can make effective contribution to the discussions.
The inclusiveness of the process, the nature of the consultation, timelines, Roles of bodies like the Constitutional Development Committee, type of government, Bill of Rights, Codes of Conduct for Constitutional appointed bodies, citizenship and the electoral reform reflected in the document are only some of the issues that should be discussed in preparation for the consultations.
The Constitution is such a critical document for Fiji now that all citizens must have these discussions internally before the State determined Consultations kicks off. Preliminary principles for later submissions must be determined now.

On January 12th, Citizens’ Constitutional Forum CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki wrote to the Prime welcoming the announcement made in his New Year message that the Constitutional consultation process begins in February 2012 and not September as earlier announced.

“In our letter to the PM, we have stressed that the authority of a constitution must be accepted and come in one way or another from the people and the legitimacy of the process lends itself to the people, diverse as they maybe in views, visions and opinions.”

“We, as an organization, have commenced intensive internal discussions on the processes of constitution making and are exploring the values and principles which we believe must be enshrined in the constitution to ensure sustainable democracy in Fiji and all citizens must be encouraged to do the same.”

CCF urges government to get the ball rolling to ensure the momentum is maintained following the two public events hosted by CCF recently on constitution making and the processes which has increased the interest from stakeholders to get involved in the process” says Reverend Yabaki.

CCF is firmly of the view that the constitutional process be one that builds on the diversity of the participants; constructive dialogue and the sharing of knowledge with a view to change-oriented decision making.

“Consultation unfortunately usually occurs in one direction. One-way communication: one party presents, and the other receives and there is little or no interaction between the participants. Dialogue approach currently practiced and in which government, civil society, business sectors, women and youth are involved as participants is recommended as the norm in the promised constitutional process” stresses Rev Yabaki.

CCF has also recommended that as a prerequisite to the consultation process, it would be prudent if all parties have a forum to indicate their issues that are non-negotiable, including that from the current government.

We reiterate that under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Information” and the current government must be prepared to shoulder the diverse opinions some of which will be negative and critical and allow the groups to assemble end talk freely without fear of being reprimanded.

For further information please contact the communications team at CCF on communications@ccf.org.fj
……………………….
Reverend Akuila Yabaki

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