Fiji Political Parties Announce Support Of Draft Constitution

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Leaders commend measures for rights, independent commissions

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 31, 2012) – Key Fiji political parties in a joint statement today have unanimously endorsed the proposed Draft 2012 Constitution which is expected to be made available online for public viewing.

In a statement undersigned by Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua executive Ratu Jone Kubuabola, Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhary and United People’s Party leader Mick Beddoes, the parties said the draft Constitution and supporting documents were satisfactory in that it fairly reflected the people’s views and submissions.

While there may be some areas of concern on a small number of issues, on balance the party leaders felt it was a constitution they could work with and address issues of significant concern to the people of Fiji.

The leaders particularly commended the extensive and comprehensive Bill of Rights section which "protects the individual freedoms and rights of all citizens including a special focus on the rights of children and the elderly."

The leaders also welcomed the recommendation for the establishment of various independent Commissions such as the Ethics and Integrity Commission, the Constitutional Offices Commission and the Police and Corrections Commission, are designed to stamp out corruption and abuse of office.

The Great Council of Chiefs has been recognized as an advisory body on i-Taukei affairs and a custodian of i-Taukei culture and traditions.

The set-up of a National Consultative Land Forum has been welcomed by the leaders saying it will focus primarily on reconciling the divergent interests of the landowners and tenants for their social and economic advancement as well as that of the nation as a whole.

A "welcome feature" of the document, the leaders further said that existing decrees are made null and void under the draft constitution.

The leaders have also called on the government to immediately release the documents for public discussion and debate as it is a peoples’ document. Fiji Constitution member Penny Moore told FijiLive the proposed Draft 2012 Constitution will be posted on the Constitution Commission website with the approval of Constitution Commission chair Yash Ghai.

"My work with the commission has ended, but I have been told that with the approval of the Constitution Commission chairman Yash Ghai, the documents would be posted online some time this week," Moore said.

The draft Constitution and Explanatory report currently in the possession of Fiji’s president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will be handed over to an appointed Constituent Assembly that will deliberate and adopt the draft document.

In an interview earlier today, Fiji's Ministry of Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns said the government would not make any comments on documents posted on the internet said to be a copy of the country's 2012 draft constitution.

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