News and Comments Wednesday 17 October 2012
URGENT PUBLIC NOTICE. MEETING TONIGHT. A public seminar organized by the Constitution Commission and the Fiji National University will be held at the Fiji National University Nasinu Campus tonight 17th October from 6-8pm. All are welcome.
GHAI ON IMMUNITY QUESTION. Commission chairperson Professor Yash Ghai says some people feel issues related to the provisions of immunity should be debated.
“Most people were realistic. Any regime anywhere in the world will not give away powers unless they have an assurance for immunity.People are concerned that it is not for public debate or consultation. They said there should be a process of truth and reconciliation and that process can also deal with immunity." In view of widespread requests there is a need to consider the issue "very seriously.”
SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED. With submissions from Rotuma and the outer islands still to be counted, some 2,752 have been listened to by the Constitution Commissioners. They have also received submissions by post and email.
WHAT NOW? With the submission period now over, the Commission will speak to the people of Fiji and experts on matters like the economy, land, elections, the role of the military and democratic transition as they draft the constitution which they expect to complete before Christmas.
THIS BLOG. Summaries of individual submissions will continue to be published, and over the next few weeks I intend to summarise views on each major issue, starting with a comparison of the submissions of the major political parties —the SDL, FLP, UPP, and the NFP— on Fiji's political system.
- Changes to the Constitution by national referendum and 70% approval;
- All political parties to be multiracial with membership for the purposes of registration to include at least 30% from different ethnic backgrounds;
- Open electorates, one man one vote aged 18 years and over, and 41 MPs;
- A Senate of 21 members nominated by the parties elected;
- Great Council of Chiefs to be retained but with no political role;
- The President, Ombudsman and Commander RFMF to be nominated by the PM with the approval of both houses of parliament;
- The miltary's role to be limited to defence against a foreign power, extremist forces and natural disasters, with absolutely no political role;
- No immunity for coup perpetrators.
- Current leadership to give up effective control of the government at least three months before the elections date.
- All military personnel to resign from civil service positions and offer themselves for reappointment through normal civil service appointment procedures under any new government.
And by an earlier interview with the PM reported by Fiji Village that that the military will ensure true democracy is in place before the 2014 elections, and that a civilian government will be in place to ensure that all the planned policies are implemented before the elections.
* The public seminar will be held at the FNU Nasinu Campus TONIGHT starting at 6pm.
SDA SUBMISSION. The Seventh Day Adventist Church wants Fiji to be described as a sovereign democratic state instead of secular state.The Church wants no official state religion but would welcome recognition of the special role of Christianity and God in Fiji's history. The inclusion of a prayer at the beginning of parliament session, having a Christian chaplain for parliament, and taking oaths on the Bible would fulfil this function.The church also condemned homosexuality in any form, wanted marriage to be defined as between a male and a female and the age of marriage increased to 21 years. The church supports the military as an institution but thinks its role should be reviewed and numbers decreased.
PENSIONER SUBMISSION. Fiji National Provident Fund pensioners want the constitutional Bill of Rights to include full protection for the rights and interests of pensioners, including a guarantee that legally-agreed pensions are inviolable, and the incoming parliament to review the laws applying to the FNPF with particular reference to its board, and lending policies. They also wanted a clause affirming the right of citizens to petition their Government on issues and grievances and the obligation of the Government to give a full and considered response, and the repeal of present decrees that restricted these rights.
They thought the 1997 constitution should form the framework for proposed constitutional changes; the establishment of a Constitution Court (also proposed by Dr Shaista Shameen); one-person one-vote; theappointment of a caretaker government to manage the transition to the 2014 elections; and those found guilty of treason being prohibited from contesting elections for life.