Saturday, October 13, 2012

No Need to Rewrite Fiji Constitution - Fiji Trade Union Congress

Fiji Village News

FTUC Secretary Felix Anthony

There is no need to rewrite the constitution except to make amendments to the existing one.

This was one of the 17 topics discussed in the Fiji Trades Union Congress written submission to the Constitution Commission at the Parliament Complex today.

The Submission was presented by FTUC National Secretary, Felix Anthony.

In its 13 page submission FTUC believes that the imposing of the Public Order Amendment Decree is more restrictive than the Public Emergency Regulations in areas of freedom of speech and assembly. 

They have raised the question on whether the PER will be re imposed after the commission's report is handed to the president.

The FTUC has also asked for the Bill of Rights in the 1997 Constitution to be maintained as the provisions provided for under it are important for a free and Democratic society.

They also believe the Great Council of Chiefs be retained as according to Anthony the GCC has an important traditional and customary role to play nationally. However they propose for the GCC not to have any political role.

In addition the FTUC told the commission that the House of Representatives should comprise of 41 members averaging about 14,600 voters per member, assuming that there are approximately 600,000 eligible voters.

The 41 seats shall all be open seats based on the principle of one man one vote.

They have called on the Upper House to consist of 21 members and the members shall be nominated by parties eligible on basis of proportional representation on the popular votes received by each of those parties in General Elections.

The FTUC proposed to the Commission that all political parties shall be multiracial and their membership for the purposes of registration shall include at least 30 percent of registered voters from different ethnic backgrounds which will ensure that  ethnic based parties do not benefit from the proportionate system and enter parliament through back door.

They submitted that the president of the nation together with Om-buds-man and Commander of Military forces be nominated by the Prime Minister who shall seek approval of both houses of parliament prior to appointment.

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The parliament should also ensure adequate budget provisions are made for effective function of these offices.

The Fiji Trades Union has highlighted that the role of the military shall be limited to the defense of the nation by a foreign power, extremist forces and natural disasters. Also the military in all circumstances should be subservient to the government of the day and should have absolutely no political role.

In addition they have stated that all military personnel appointed to civil service positions since 5th December, 2006 should resign from their positions and offer themselves for reappointment through normal civil service appointment procedures under any new government.

Moving on they submitted that the current leadership give up effective control of the government by resigning from their positions at least 3months prior to the election date. 

This they believe will ensure free and fair elections and see that there is no abuse of office within the government.

They have suggested that a change in the constitution shall require support of at least 70 percent of voters in a referendum.

Furthermore, FTUC voiced their disagreement on immunity for coup perpetrators stating that in doing so it encourages others to do the same thing.

On the other hand FTUC has agreed that the voting age be reduced to 18 and the registration of voters and the entire electoral process shall remain the responsibility of the electoral commission.

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