Saturday, October 13, 2012

Great Council of Chiefs Should be Retained-Fiji Labour Party

Fiji Village News

Labour Party leader Chaudhry
Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry has said that the Constitution should provide the circumstances under which the military forces may be deployed either in Fiji or abroad must receive the approval of parliament.

Chaudhry has said that the Constitution should also explicitly provide for both the ministerial control of the military forces as well as its command. 

He said the Constitution should state that a military force may only be raised or maintained in Fiji under the authority of an Act of Parliament.

He said the Great Council of Chiefs should be retained.

Chaudhry said they propose that the GCC be retained in its role as an advisory body to the government on issues relating to the well being of the indigenous Fijians. 

The Council may act on matters referred to it by the Minister responsible or it may take up such issues on its own initiative.

He has proposed to the Constitution Commission that there is no need to write a new constitution.

He said problem is not constitution but lack of respect for the constitution and the rule of law in Fiji.

He adds the 1997 constitution should be retained as the base document.

Chaudhry has proposed that the full term of the House of Representatives should be reduced from five years to four years from the date of its first meeting after a general election.

He said polling must commence no later than 21 days after the last day of the receipt of nominations. 

He said the timeline for by election on should be amended to read three years and six months. 
Chaudhry said they are proposing that the 71 members remain in the House of Representatives including 26 seats reserved for various communities that make up Fiji to be shared as twelve seats for Indigenous Fijians, ten for Indo Fijians, one for Rotumans and three seats for General Electors.

He said there should be 45 open seats to be filled by voting in 15 three member heterogeneous constituencies is by members of the various ethnic communities residing in Fiji.

They are proposing that the Upper House of the Senate should be constituted of 35 members of which 30 would be nominated by the leaders of political parties based on the proportion of primary votes obtained by their parties. 

The remaining five of whom atleast one should be a Rotuman, to be appointed by the President to represent minority communities or groups which would otherwise be under represented or not represented in parliament.

He proposes that Senate should not have any veto powers or powers that override the authority of the House of Representatives.

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The Constitution should require that the House of Representatives and the Senate should sit together as an Electrol College for the purposes of electing as President and Vice President one of the pairs of candidates nominated for those offices.

The election should be by secret ballot under the preferential system. A candidate to be successful must obtain at least 50% plus one of the valid votes cast.

He further proposes that the President's term of office should be limited to one term of five years and he or she should not be eligible for reappointment. 

The Vice President's term should be similarly limited except that he or she could be nominated for the office of the President on expiry of his or her term as VP.
He said the Constitution should clarify that the President does not have any reserve powers or authority other than that prescribed in the Constitution and that the President must act only on the advice of the Cabinet except where he or she is empowered by law to act on the advice of any other authority or Minister.

The constitution should require that the Prime Minister must establish a multi ethnic Cabinet from among members of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

FLP has suggested that the number of cabinet ministers should not exceed 18 and that Deputy Minister should be limited to six mainly for larger ministries.

Chaudhry said the preferential system of voting known as alternative vote is to be retained. A candidate must secure 50% plus 1 of the total valid votes cast to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives.

Chaudhry said a person's right to vote and to be registered as a voter should clearly prescribe in the Constitution. 

He has proposed that voting age should be lowered to 18.

He stress that residential qualification of two year must be maintained.

In order to enable and encourage the participation of women in politics they propose that should the number of successful women candidates be less than 15, then additional woman be nominated to parliament so that the total number of women members is not than 15.

FLP proposes that ALTA to remain an entrenched legislation, leases under ALTA to be given out for a minimum of 50 years to provide security of tenure and encourage investment in the agricultural sector, rent should be put at 10% of the Unimproved Capital Value but the State should continue to meet the additional 4% as subsidy to growers.

He proposes for a special Constitutional Court be established to expeditiously determine matter arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation. 

He said the current practice of such matters being dealt with through the High Court has its disadvantages, is time consuming and expensive.

Chaudhry said additional women to be nominated to parliament and women should not have less than fifteen seats in the House Of Representatives.

He has recommended that the person to be appointed Attorney General must be a qualified to be appointed a judge of the High Court.

The establishment and functions of the Human Rights Commission should be maintained as provided for in the 1997 Constitution. 

However its membership should be enlarged to five members drawn from a good cross section of the society of whom atleast two should be women.

The Constitution should require the establishment of a national minimum wage mechanism to determine minimum wage levels in the various sectors of the economy.

He said to counter the adverse effects the escalating levels of poverty and social hardships the FLP has recommended that the Constitution should protect the poor by requiring the State to follow the principles of natural justice in such circumstances.

Chaudhry said the party has recommended the introduction of a State Pension Scheme to cater for all senior citizens above the age of 65 who are not in receipt of any other pension or other benefits and who are without adequate means of support to provide for their basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter.

Special parliamentary majorities, he recommended sections 191 to 192 in the 1997 constitution be appropriately amended to reflect the changed composition of both houses and requiring the support of 75% of members of both houses to alter act of the constitution.

He has urged the Commission to include a provision of the transnational arrangement to the draft constitution requiring the President to appoint an independent caretaker administration to assume charge of the government until such time as the government elected under the new constitution takes office.

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