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No right to print draft

Nanise Loanakadavu And Maciu Malo
Monday, December 31, 2012

THE draft constitution was seized and destroyed because the Constitution Commission has no right to either print or distribute them.

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Land Force Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga made the comment in reaction to allegations by the outgoing chairman of the Constitution Commission, Prof Yash Ghai during an interview with Radio Australia over the weekend.

However, he said the commission was only required under the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) Decree 2012 to give the draft supreme law to the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

"We stopped the printing of the 600 copies draft document because what he (Ghai) did was illegal," Lt-Col Tikoitoga said.

He said under the decree the draft document would only be released after being sighted, scrutinised and deliberated by the Constituent Assembly.

"The decree was clear, it dictated the work of the commission," he said.

Lt-Col Tikoitoga said Prof Ghai' s job was to write the draft document and present it to the President.

"Why did he go ahead to print 600 copies?," he questioned.

"The President doesn't need 600 copies but just one copy to view.

"That is why we confiscated the document while it was still being printed," he said.

Lt-Col Tikoitoga said Prof Ghai's motives were clear thus resulted in the destroying of the 599 copies of the draft document.

In the radio interview Prof Ghai said all 600 copies were seized from the printer on December 22.

Prof Ghai said he went to the printers to tell police their actions were illegal but he was abused by the police officer in charge as a result. He said some copies of the draft document were shredded before being soaked in kerosene and burnt.

When contacted yesterday Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith said government would not comment on the issue.





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