THE government has made two new decrees to govern the making of Fiji's new constitution. These provide for the establishment and work of the Constitutional Commission and the Constituent Assembly as well as a five-member tribunal which will scrutinise the constitution before it is adopted by the President. Included is a provision that suspends the need for permits for meetings unless the meetings are on public roads, or in public parks, gardens or sports arenas
This was announced by the Acting Prime Minister and Attorney- General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at a press conference yesterday afternoon. He said the decrees were approved by Cabinet on Tuesday and gazetted yesterday.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Section 8 of the Public Order Act as amended, which required permits for meetings, would no longer apply for the period from yesterday until the commission hands its draft constitution to the President. He said "this is to enable the full participation of all Fijians in the constitutional process".
"Anyone can go have a meeting without applying for a permit except if the meeting will be on a public road, park, garden or sporting arena," he said.
He cautioned that while people are now free to meet without a permit, this does not mean that meetings can be used as an opportunity to create disorder or to breach the peace.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the two decrees provided for ways in which the new Constitutional Commission and Constituent Assembly would do their work. After full public participation, the commission will submit a draft constitution to the President who will then present it to the Constituent Assembly for consideration. There will also be a five-member tribunal to be appointed by the Chief Justice which will scrutinise the constitution for conformity with the non-negotiable principles announced by the Prime Minister in March this year as well as the other requirements of the decrees.