Draft Fiji Constitutional Commission Report Leaked

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Report includes term limits for PM, ‘ceremonial’ presidency

By Bruce Hill

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 11, 2012) – Fiji could soon have a largely ceremonial president, to be chosen by a new body known as the Assembly of Fiji.

That's one recommendation included in a leaked report from Fiji's Constitution Commission.

The draft copy of the recommendations is to be officially handed to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau before Christmas, but copies are now available on several blogs.

The leaked document proposes the same number of seats for Fiji's parliament, a term reduced to four years and no senate.

It says the Prime Minister should be limited to two terms.

Fiji has been run by an interim government for six years and democratic elections aren't due until 2014.

The commission has proposed one vote for either an individual or a party, with 71 MPs to represent the four existing electorates.

The report also suggests a review of land laws and measures to address poverty and corruption.

Dr. Brij Lal, an academic who co-authored Fiji's 1997 Constitution, has seen the recommendations.

"As I read the document, the President will be elected by an assembly of Fiji which will include the President, Prime Minister and representatives from a hundred or so organizations in the country, NGOs and so on," he said.

"On paper it looks good, but I think that it's problematic in the sense that it sets up a rival centre of power if you will."

He says there are some good initiatives in the recommendations.

"Moving away from a system of racial representation, I think that's a good thing," he said.

"The term of parliament has been reduced to four years which is not necessarily a bad thing."

However, Dr. Lal says many questions still need to be answered.

"The document [will be] translated into a constitution, how that is ratified, what provisions of the draft are significantly altered to accommodate the demands of the military, these are questions that we will have to address at a later date."

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