Monday, January 14, 2013

Fijian Government Commits to 2014 Election Deadline

ABC News

"...the new draft document will carry the stamp of the military government, and will then be passed by a committee chosen by the Prime Minister."

Fiji military Dictatorship under Bainimarama


Fiji's interim government says its determined to meet its election deadline of September 2014. The country's Information Ministry says preparations are underway in earnest to assemble materials needed throughout Fiji to conduct the scheduled polls.
The interim government is inviting companies within Fiji and abroad to register their interest in supplying such items as ballot boxes, polling kits, ink, voting booths and voting screens.

They are being asked to submit expressions of interest tot he Acting Permanent Secretary Responsible for Election, Ms Mere Vuniwaqa by February 28th.

The Fijian Attorney General and Minister responsible for Election, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said interested companies would be required to meet several accepted international standards. "We invite all interested companies to register as soon as possible and contribute to this landmark event in Fiji's history - the introduction of the first genuine parliamentary democracy based on the principle on the principle of one person, one vote, one value," he said. Fiji has been facing mounting pressure to hold democratic elections since it scrapped its constitution in 2009.

Union campaign Union groups are calling for international condemnation of Fiji's Interim prime minister for effectively tearing up the draft constitution.

The draft, which took into account seven thousand submissions, was drawn up by a committee headed by Professor Yash Ghai ahead of planned democratic elections. Commodore Frank Bainimarama has announced he's scrapping the draft and his legal officers will write a new constitution to be presented to a constituent assembly appointed by him.

The general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharon Burrow, has told Radio Australia she's just returned from Fiji where many people are frustrated over what's happened.

"The anger was palpable about a dictator who has basically taken over a country with no legitimacy and it demonstrates that Bainimarama is not willing to hand over power," she said. "He himself says he will now write the constitution. "It's time that the international community raised it voice again and said 'enough, we have had enough and we have been duped',"

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the Fiji Government's trashing of its new draft constitution is a major step backwards and a disappointing development.

On Thursday the government labelled the draft constitution, drawn up by a committee headed by Professor Yash Ghai, as an appeasement to racist divisions in Fiji. Military ruler Commodore Frank Bainimarama said the draft would be scrapped and his legal officers would write a new constitution to be presented to a constituent assembly he would appoint next month. And next week he would issue a new decree on who could register political parties.

Mr McCully says the trashing of the draft will bring into question whether promised elections next year would be free and fair. He says it was always going to be a problem to get the military out of politics and back into their barracks.

Hoodwinked

Some political watchers in Fiji believe the government has deceived the international community.

Professor Brij Lal told Pacific Beat Australia and New Zealand have been taken for a ride by the regime and should reconsider their involvement in the county's constitutional process.

"This is a wake-up call for Australia and New Zealand" he said. "Their proposed re-engagement with Fiji, they supported the whole review and draft constitution process to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, they welcomed the draft constitution and now this has happened."

Professor Lal says the new draft document will carry the stamp of the military government, and will then be passed by a committee chosen by the Prime Minister.

"The constituent assembly will be hand-picked by the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama. There is no independence, there is no transparency and basically the military will have its way." he said.

"The [original] draft constitution was widely welcomed by the people of Fiji, by all the major political parties and now the military and the regime simply wants to have a document that is its handiwork and enshrines its interests and concerns and aspirations."

Misplaced criticism

Fiji's government is standing by its decision, citing shortcomings Professor Yash Ghai's draft and saying much of the criticism is unwarranted. On Thursday, President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau criticised the Ghai draft for being "very bureaucratic" and said the institutions it would create would require a "very bureaucratic structure."

"It [the draft] has unfortunately, perhaps, succumbed to the whims of the few who have had an interest in perpetuating divisions within our society," Mr Nailatikau said. However, Mr Nailatikau highlighted several positives of the Ghai draft, including provisions on social and economic rights, good governance and accountability and independence of the judiciary. The government now says it will move forward with another draft. Permanent Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Pio Tidoduadua, told Radio Australia they have until February to put together the constituent assembly and the country will have a new constitution by the end of April.





Explanatory Report                                 Appendages to Draft Fiji Constitution



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Workers' party to take on Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama

"Fijians' aspirations had been dealt a cruel blow by the decision to redraft the constitution."

A NEW movement of trade unionists and civil society groups has been formed in Fiji, throwing down a gauntlet to military ruler Frank Bainimarama, who will set rules tomorrow for parties in next year's election.

The movement, finalised at the weekend at a meeting in Nadi, will provide a further challenge to the government, which has ruled since a December 2006 coup.

Dictator Bainimarama
 Commodore Bainimarama, the (illegal) Prime Minister, said the decree "will set new and internationally accepted standards of political party governance". The government has been widely condemned in the past week for abandoning the process it established for drawing up a new constitution ready for the election -- pledged by Commodore Bainimarama to be held by September next year.

The draft drawn up by a commission chaired by constitutional expert Yash Ghai, after 7000 submissions from Fiji individuals and institutions and meetings around the country, has been put to one side.

The army, in its 100-page submission to the commission, further insisted all the decrees it had imposed since seizing power -- 84 so far -- be retained rather than abolished or amended as proposed in the commission's draft. Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said of the constitution that "overall, in respect of the process, which the President (Epeli Nailatikau) has laid out, we just have to adhere to that". He said Commodore Bainimarama would announce the membership of the Constituent Assembly on his return from New York, where he is assuming on behalf of Fiji the chairmanship of the G77 group of developing countries at the UN.

But Akuila Yabaki, the clergyman who is chief executive of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, said at the weekend Fijians' aspirations had been dealt a cruel blow by the decision to redraft the constitution.

Sharan Burrow, who was ACTU president for a decade before becoming general-secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation in 2010, left Fiji at the weekend after meeting unionists there. She told The Australian that Commodore Bainimarama's failure to adhere to the process towards a new constitution he had himself drawn up "is a clear indication that he is not serious about transition to democratic rights and freedom".

She said unions in Fiji no longer had the right to collective bargaining, striking or even meeting. "That's why the unions decided to launch a new political party and movement, which is inclusive of workers and their families, which is multi-racial, and which broadly represents civil society," Ms Burrow said. "That's a very courageous decision -- that you simply have to stand up to a dictator. The people in the packed hall I addressed in Nadi at the weekend were determined not to be cowed in seeking to take back their country."

Sydney-born Catholic priest Kevin Barr, founder of the People's Community Network, who resigned last August as chairman of Fiji's Wages Council, and Poseci Bune, a former head of the public service and ambassador to the UN and a former Labour politician, both pledged their support for the new movement, said Ms Burrow.

The International Labour Organisation in November named Fiji one of "the most serious and urgent cases regarding freedom of association".




Explanatory Report                                 Appendages to Draft Fiji Constitution



Click Links to Find Out!
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