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Expert sheds light on issue

Nanise Loanakadavu
Friday, December 07, 2012

AS the nation eagerly awaits the appointment of Fiji's first Constituent Assembly next month, a public lecture on "Nature of the Constituent Assembly" was held at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday night.

Organised by the Citizens' Constitutional Forum Ltd (CCF) in partnership with the Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM) and School of Government, Development and International Affairs of the University of the South Pacific (USP), the forum provided hundreds of participants the opportunity to learn what a Constituent Assembly was and the role it played in formulating a constitution.

Renowned constitutional expert and main speaker, Professor Cheryl Saunders delivered a 40-minute presentation on her expertise in the field of constitution-making.

Prof Saunders gave an overview of the nature of such an institution, the various mechanisms in place and the universal guiding principles which determine the composition and conduct of a Constituent Assembly.

A lot of questions were raised on the criteria when selecting members of the assembly particularly for political parties and whether people would still be allowed to make recommendations on the draft constitution as part of the open and inclusive process.

Participant Daryl Tarte spoke highly of the work of the Constitution Commission saying they had done a "marvellous" job through the consultation process over the past months.

"But the question is, how can the commission and the public be guaranteed that their submissions and hard work would be included in the constitution when the draft document would be considered by the Constituent Assembly," Mr Tarte asked.

CCF chief executive officer, Akuila Yabaki said the Constituent Assembly would be tasked to deliberate on the draft constitution, formulated by the Constitution Commission following the nationwide consultations.


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