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Constitution dilemma

Nanise Loanakadavu
Thursday, November 08, 2012

THE Constitution Commission has raised concerns that the period for the public to assess the draft constitution before it is put to parliament has been reduced to one week.

These changes were made following the amendments of the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012 last week by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Commission chairman, Prof Yash Ghai earlier revealed that the draft document would be a perfect Christmas gift for the people of Fiji next month.

However, in an interview with the Pacific Beat earlier this week, Prof Ghai raised concerns on the time frame given to the public to assess the draft constitution.

He also raised concerns to the Australian-based news organisation on the changes to the decree under which the commission operates, reportedly in response to Commodore Bainimarama's "disappointment" over the alleged conflict of interest.

Under the decree the commission is required to publish the names and salaries of its staff members and consultants.

Prof Ghai said the draft document would be summarised on small pamphlets so it could be distributed to all people in Fiji next month before they submit it to the President.

He said the commission was required to ensure that the people of Fiji were able to participate in the process.

When contacted yesterday regarding his interview with the Pacific Beat, Prof Ghai, according to the commission would not be making any further comments regarding the issue.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said Prof Ghai could decide for himself whether he wanted to be part of the constitution process.

Commodore Bainimarama said there would be ample scope for public discussion once the Constituent Assembly started its deliberations once a document was ready.