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Effective assembly

Nanise Loanakadavu
Friday, December 07, 2012

IF the Constituent Assembly functions effectively in Fiji, it can also contribute towards other goals of a constitution-making process.

This includes building unity, offering the opportunity for reconciliation, underpinning stability, providing a new model for political behaviour and generally representing a fresh start.

While making a presentation at the public lecture on "Nature of a Constituent Assembly", Professor Cheryl Saunders of the University of Melbourne said the effectiveness of a Constituent Assembly was not just a matter of planning and design, but it depended on whether the assembly engaged the trust, faith and imagination of the people for whom and whose name the constitution was made.

"This cannot be mandated," Prof Saunders said.

In some constitutional traditions, she said, a Constituent Assembly was always necessary to make a new constitution.

"In others it is used for pragmatic reasons because there has been a break with earlier constitutional arrangements and there is no other institution that is likely to be accepted as having authority or legitimacy for the purpose," she said.

Prof Saunders said a Constituent Assembly met this need because it was equated with the collective people as the ultimate sovereign authority in a democratic state.

"It offers representation of a different order from ordinary politics," she said.

The three-hour public lecture saw members of various sectors including the Constitution Commission sharing views and ideas on how members of the Constituent Assembly should be selected.


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