Friday, October 19, 2007

People decide Government not Charter: Dr Brij Lal

October 19, 2007

One of the architects of the 1997 Constitution Dr Brij Lal said the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama gave an important undertaking in an open Forum of his Pacific peers.
As a result not only Australia, New Zealand and the EU but Fiji's Pacific neighbours will be watching closely the actions the interim administration takes.
Dr Lal said the undertaking was refreshing, because it was against the grain of what Commodore Bainimarama had been saying all along: that it is up to Fiji, not the international community, to decide when elections would be held.
"What the international community will now look for are tangible steps, measurable milestones from the interim administration.
"Interestingly the Fiji Labour Party has once again raised the old cry of bullying neighbours, and making trivialising comments about the Forum meeting as an annual ritual.'
"So, the interim administration seems to be speaking with discordant voices, the interim PM saying one thing, and his partner in government saying another. How they resolve this impasse will be watched with interest," said Dr Lal.
He added that the Charter could not be used as a blunt instrument to bully or exclude the interim administration's political opponents.
"The talk of using the Charter to keep out "Qarase-like policies" will simply get the back of those already distrustful of it and more broadly the aims and ambitions of the interim administration itself," he said.
Dr Lal said instead of rallying the nation behind the initiative, it would divide it further as well as arouse suspicion and opposition.
He said the Charter had no legal basis as it was not part of the constitution.
"It was not even properly formulated yet.
"I can't see how an unformulated, non-constitutional, non-legal document can be used to keep a political party from contesting the elections with a manifesto of its own," said Dr Lal.
He says in any democracy, it is the citizens who decide what kind of government they want for themselves.
"No charter of this sort can ever be binding on future governments.
"It is no more than a set of moral and ethical guideline - even the Compact in the present constitution is non-justiciable," said Dr Lal.

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