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Fiji Time: 6:58 AM on Monday 21 April

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Moore bewildered

Tevita Vuibau
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Former Constitution Commissioner Penelope Moore says she is confused by some statements made by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau last week on the draft constitution.

While Ms Moore welcomed parts of the President's statement, she said she was unclear about his comments on the Natadola and Momi projects.

"I really have no idea what he was talking about when he said the draft would undo the Natadola and Momi projects, as we never touched on it in the draft," she said.

"I also feel he may have misinterpreted the purpose of the 150-member National People's Assembly."

Ratu Epeli in his earlier statement said the Ghai draft allowed for a 144-member body of unelected people to decide on key issues pertaining to the Fijian people. However, Ms Moore explained the National People's Assembly would be made up by Parliament members and nominees put forth by civil society organisations.

"The assembly will only meet once a year for a week and will only be able to petition government for change, not bring actual change," she stated.

"This would help bring about transparency from government."

"Even the civil service organisations will give their nominees to the Elections Office. They will then divide the nominees into a number of categories to ensure there is equal representation in the assembly."

"The only power the assembly will have would be to elect the president of the country."

Ms Moore explained the assembly was given this power as the commissioners wanted to ensure the head of state was elected by a proper cross-section of the population.

"We also gave these powers to the assembly as we wanted a body that was not political to vote for the president," she added.

Meanwhile the government refused to comment any further on the announcement by Ratu Epeli regarding amendments to the draft constitution.

"It would be highly discourteous for anyone to comment on or preempt the statement made by his excellency to the people of Fiji yesterday (Thursday)," Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"He has also explicitly stated that there are some very pertinent and positive, and universally accepted points in the Ghai report which will benefit Fiji as a whole."