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Constitution debate

Mere Naleba
Monday, July 14, 2014

PEOPLE need to forget about past events that tarnished our country's image if we are to move forward.

These were the words of FijiFirst party leader Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama

Mr Bainimarama, during his political party campaign at the Dreketi District School in Nakorovou, Rewa, said the government had been trying its best to eradicate racist comments and thoughts often highlighted by other political parties.

He said the 2013 Constitution did not discriminate and was drawn up after consulting members of the public.

Speaking in the iTaukei language, he said the Constitution protected the rights of every person that called himself a Fijian.

Mr Bainimarama said for people who did not agree with what the Constitution was saying, that indigenous people's rights were not protected, needed to rethink their political strategies.

He said the iTaukei's rights and issues relating to them were well protected and not exploited by the Fijian Affairs Board and the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs.

Mr Bainimarama also said every Fijian should decide whether they wanted to see positive changes in the country — something that his party had been trying to put in place.

"E sega ni vinakati na veitalanoa koya me basika mai kina vei na noda Constitution me dua na Constitution macawa, sega ni vinaka, sega ni vaka tautau vata taki kina na veimata tamata qo o Viti," he said. ("We don't want consultation with people who will bring out a useless Constitution, a Constitution that is not good, one that discriminates against different races in Fiji.")

"Sega ni dua na kauta laivi vei keda na taukei na noda dodonu e noda vanua, sega ni naki ni Constitution me vakamatei keda na iTaukei, na kenai naki mera laurai vakatautauvata na leweni vanua." ("Nobody will take away our rights as indigenous people — the objective of this Constitution is to see that Fijians are protected").

Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau said most people had thought the draft constitution that was drafted by Professor Yash Ghai and his team was the people's constitution.

"We all participated in the Yash Ghai draft constitution and we were hoping that would be the constitution but unfortunately that didn't happen so for us that is a disappointment that the Constitution was curated without knowledge as to who did it without consultation," he said.

Ro Filipe said it would be best if the government brought back the abrogated constitution so people could also share their views before a people's constitution was put in place.

"E na vinaka na constitution me na kau tale mai me na dikeva na lewe ni vanua. Na gauna qo nai tukutuku kece qo e biu sobu mai, e sega ni biu cake yani vei keimami," ("It would be good to bring back the constitution so that people can be part of the consultation process. At the moment all that is in place has been imposed on us and not suggested to us").

"Sa buli ga sa soli sobu mai vei keimami." ("The government has made their decisions and passed them down to us.")

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