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Work Shall Resume On The 1997 Constitution If We Win Majority Seats, Says Rabuka

Work Shall Resume On The 1997 Constitution If We Win Majority Seats, Says Rabuka
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka (middle) with University of Fiji law students
April 27
11:00 2018

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka says he wants a re­turn to the 1997 Constitution if the party wins the election.

Speaking to Law students at the University of Fiji, the former Prime Minister presented himself as a ‘NEW Rabuka’ who has been humbled and broken over the past years.

He was invited to speak on the subject “Promoting National Unity in Diversity, Different Pathways to a Common National Identity.”

Mr Rabuka spoke at length about his motivation after the 1987 up­heaval and the development of a new constitution in 1997 “to pro­mote unity in diversity.”

“We must all continue to embrace diversity as an opportunity rather than a threat to nation-building, for a progressive and inclusive soci­ety,” Mr Rabuka said.

He also used the opportunity to shed light on the partially released SODELPA manifesto.

“In the event, the party I have been entrusted to lead wins the majority number of seats in Parliament in the 2018 General Election, I shall re­sume the work that Jai Ram Reddy and I started in the 1997 Constitu­tion,” he said.

“And this is to develop in full con­sultation with the people of Fiji, and with an all-parties consensus decision in Parliament, for a review of the 2013 Fiji Constitution.”

Mr Rabuka emphasised that the review would include comparative considerations of the approached adopted in the 1997 and 2013 consti­tutions for a common identity.

He was critical of the attainment of dual citizenship covered under the Citizenship Decree of 2009.

This allows for any child, spouse and former Fijian citizen to apply for citizenship by registration.

It also allows foreigners, who are working, investing or living in Fiji for at least 10 years to apply for Fi­jian citizenship by naturalisation.

“This dual nationality is a good thing in our globalised world. But it creates the dubious situation about a person’s patriotic loyalty and at­tachment to Fiji when one is at the same time the national of another State.”

Mr Rabuka also questioned the new political culture where under the 2013 Constitution, all citizens of Fiji are to be called ‘Fijians’.

“The only justification given is that by granting common and equal citizenry as Fijians, this constitu­tionally imposed political identity will induce among the citizens of Fiji a greater sense of unity as a na­tion. Nothing can be further from the truth.”

He claimed that “an imposed po­litical culture based on a “single all-embracing national identity” does not differ from cultural as­similation.

“Our different communities will feel more confident and secure about their future in Fiji when their ethnicity, religious faiths and cultures are publicly acknowledged by the State and given equal protec­tion and treatment.”

For ease of identification, Mr Rabuka suggested that we could refer to each other as native or indigenous Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Chinese-Fijians, European or part-European Fijians and Banabans and Rotumans.

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

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