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Fiji Time: 7:52 AM on Saturday 20 September

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Ghai 'disappoints'

By ANA MADIGIBULI
Wednesday, November 07, 2012

PRIME Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has said the constitution is not for the government but is for the Fijian people.

Commodore Bainimarama made this comment in response to the Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai's comments regarding the government's attitude.

He said the process of formulating the constitution needed to be transparent.

"Professor Ghai is complaining that there is not enough scope for public discussion after the commission produces its document," Commodore Bainimarama said.

"But there will be ample scope for public discussion once the Constituent Assembly starts its deliberations, once a document is ready.

"Professor Ghai needs to comprehend that his function is to produce a constitution and submit it to the President," he said.

Commodore Bainimarama said any public discussion on the draft constitution would be undertaken by the Constituent Assembly and it was not for the commission chairman to "hijack" the Constituent Assembly process.

"Professor Ghai seems to fundamentally misunderstand the process," he said.

Commodore Bainimarama said he was deeply disappointed that Professor Ghai seemed to have no grasp of the government's concerns about the commission's decision to appoint Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as one of its consultants.

"The law specifically requires every staff member and consultant to be impartial and uphold the non-negotiable principles and the government rightly insists that the commission comply with the law," he said.

"Professor Ghai keeps saying that Ratu Joni did not contravene one of the non-negotiable principles when he was part of a delegation that called for a Christian State. But the decree expressly says that a secular state is one of the non-negotiable principles and the law could not be clearer." Commodore Bainimarama said he was also disappointed that Professor Ghai showed no understanding of why the government had promulgated the series of laws that came into force since 2006.

"We needed some fundamental reforms in Fiji covering everything from domestic violence and child protection to modernising corporate and criminal laws, including the establishment of an independent commission against corruption."


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