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Fiji Time: 6:41 PM on Wednesday 23 April

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Public access to document

Margaret Wise
Saturday, December 08, 2012

THE government has reassured that the public will have access to the draft constitution as well as the Constituent Assembly that will review the document and make amendments it believed were appropriate.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum stressed that there were enormous mechanisms built into the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012 for public feedback.

Speaking at the opening of the 14th Attorney-General's Conference at the Inter-continental Resort in Natadola Commodore Bainimarama said the Constituent Assembly would consist of the broadest possible cross-section of Fijian society, as set out in the relevant decree.

He said to qualify as members of the Constituent Assembly, individuals and organisations would need to demonstrate that they represented a significant constituency in the country.

They must also be guided by a commitment to the interests of the nation and the Fijian people as a whole, he added.

"For we cannot again allow a narrow band of elite to determine our future. We have already had a handful of men determine what our constitution would be after independence, we have already had the 1990 constitution imposed with almost no consultation at all, and we have already had the key recommendations of the Reeves Commission overturned by a joint parliamentary select committee.

"This will not happen again," Commodore Bainimarama told the more than 290 people attending the conference.

Later, during a segment on constitution and constitutionalism, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the public would be able to make presentations to the assembly.

The public, he said, could also discuss their concerns with their representatives.

"There is no restriction on assembly taking to the public.

"It even allows it to form subcommittees."

The Constitution Commission will formally present the draft constitution and the Explanatory Report to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau before the Constituent Assembly holds its first meeting on the second week of January 2013.

The assembly, will be guided by the Fiji Constituent Process (Constitution Assembly and Adoption of Constitution) Decree 2012. The Decree also outlined that the work of the Constituent Assembly was to be completed before the end of March 2013.