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Critical, complex process

Nanise Loanakadavu
Friday, December 07, 2012

FIJI is by no means unique in using a Constituent Assembly to make a new constitution.

These were the words echoed by the founding director of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Cheryl Saunders, during a public lecture on "Nature of a Constituent Assembly" in Suva on Wednesday night.

Prof Saunders said the institution of the Constituent Assembly had a long pedigree in world history, the origins of which could be traced to the French Revolution in 1789 and on some accounts beyond.

"On the face of it, this is a multi-faceted and complex process, of which the Constituent Assembly is only a part," she said.

She said her presence was merely to allow people to understand that this was a critical process, which was centred to the founding story of what everyone hoped would be a successful, democratic and stable constitution of Fiji.

"The design of a constitution-making process is often a pragmatic response to difficult circumstances," she said.

"If the Constituent Assembly needs also to perform a legislative role, it should do so," she said.

She said there was much to be said for a Constituent Assembly whose function was confined to constitution-making.