Fiji Military Leader Slams Release Of Draft Constitution

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Commander claims Yash Ghai overstepped authority

By Lavenia Vuadreu

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 3, 2013) – Fiji Military’s Land Force Commander Mosese Tikoitoga maintains that Professor Yash Ghai does not have the authority to disseminate and make public the 2012 draft Constitution.

He said the role is reserved for the Constituent Assembly, to be appointed by the Head of State, to hold public consultations, debate and adopt the document.

Tikoitoga said the commission’s work ceased on 21 December 2012 when they handed over the draft to the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Tikoitoga’s comments come after Professor Ghai via a blog site published copies of the "authentic" Draft Constitution and the supplementary documents that he, along with his fellow Commissioners, presented to Ratu Epeli.

He said in publishing the draft documents, the commission wants to be as transparent as possible.

In his accompanying note on the "authentic" draft documents, Professor Ghai stated, "There was no mention whatsoever that the Commission could not publish the Draft Constitution and the Explanatory Report to the public."

[PIR editor’s note: Ghai contends that there is no legitimate reason not to distribute the draft constitution to the public.]

Tikoitoga disputes this saying the decree was clear on the responsibilities of the commission limiting their work calling Professor Ghai’s actions "unlawful."

"The Commission was not mandated to carry out any distribution or consultation, [which] is why Police seized those additional copies from the printers. Their work ended when they handed over the documents," Tikoitoga said.

The original Constitution Commission Decree No 57 made provisions the commission to present the draft to the people and keep them informed of the progress of debate and adoption of the Constitution all of which was rescinded in Decree No.64.

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