Step by Step: From Commission to Assembly and Tribunal, and Elections
|Where is started: Levuka|
The constitution and political dialogue starts this week with the the work of current Constitution Commission and their recommendations to a Constitution Assembly early next year, and concludes with the recommendations of a Tribunal to the President.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum spells out the steps:
The composition of the Constituent Assembly, to be appointed in January, will be reflective of the diversity of the people of Fiji. It will look into the draft forwarded to it by the President after it is presented to him by the Constitutional Commission. The process will be guided by the Fiji Constituent Process (Constitution Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree 2012 that include the " non-negotiable principles set out by the Prime Minister during his historic announcement in March."
These principles and values are universally recognized and aspired to. Therefore, these principles and values are non-negotiable. They are:
• A common and equal citizenry;
• A secular state;
• The removal of systemic corruption;
• An independent judiciary;
• Elimination of discrimination;
• Good and transparent governance;
• Social justice;
• One person, one vote, one value;
• The elimination of ethnic voting;
• Proportional representation; and
• A voting age of 18.
See my March posting for the PM's address.
"Once the President receives the draft constitution, he will then present it to the Constituent Assembly, that is governed by the Fiji Constituent Process (Constituent Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree, that is the other set of laws that will apply to them."
"It (the decree) talks about the staging of the process, it talks about the functions of the assembly and also the composition of the assembly, as the PM has announced that the composition of the assembly is critical in ensuring that everyone participates in this process."
The Assembly must include, but should not be limited to include, Government, registered political parties, faith-based organisation, representatives of employers, farmers, trade unions, youth groups, women organisation and so on. The decree sets out the qualification of the members of the assembly and the procedures of the assembly, how the media will participate in the process, and where the public can hear the proceedings and debate by the assembly.
There are also provisions for the continuation of the secretariat of the Constitutional Commission to continue its work for the Assembly if that is what the Assembly wishes.
Once the Assembly hands over its review of the draft, the President then forwards it to the Chief Justice, who within seven days shall appoint a five-member Tribunal.
This Tribunal will then consider whether the draft complies with the provisions of the decree, the non-
negotiable principle and the immunity provisions. "It is their job to ensure that the draft given to the President in fact complies with the decree."
If the Tribunal believes that there are certain amendments to be made, the President will give it back to the Assembly with the note that they look at these provisions or the clauses that might not be compliant with this decree.
"If it is compliant with the decree, then the President will essentially assent to the Constitution and then
that Constitution will become the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji."