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Ghai, RFMF differ over terms

December 30
09:37 2012

Yash Ghai


More differences are emerging over the “draft” constitution presented to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau by Professor Yash Ghai and his constitution commission.
The latest is over the length of terms for the new Parliament.
Republic of Fiji Military Forces Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga has stressed that the military is remaining firm on its submission.
This emphasises the need for a structure smaller and less expensive than past parliaments, and promoting political stability. It focuses on allowing enough time and money for continuing national development for all Fiji’s people.
This includes the Republic of Fiji Military Forces wanting Parliament to have a five-year term. That is instead of the reduction to our proposed in a “leaked” version of Professor Ghai’s draft.
The military is also surprised that according to leaked copies of Professor Ghai’s draft constitution he is pushing for a much bigger structure.
This includes a 71-seat Parliament, new body called a Peoples National Assembly and revived Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs).
The military had wanted only a single 46-seat Parliament based on the one vote, one value, one people concept.
Money saved through this simpler and leaner structure would go into national development.
The military was surprised that the “draft” had been leaked to anti-Government elements before Ratu Epeli had given it to the Constituent Assembly to consider and decide on.

The leaked version says: “The term of each Parliament is the period from the date the Parliament was elected, until the date of the next general election, as determined in Article 86, which period will ordinarily be 4 years but may vary from the ordinary period, in the case of an early dissolution of Parliament.”


However the Republic of Fiji Military Forces submits that for Fiji to have a robust system of Government and development Parliament’s term should be for five years.
It says:
“In particular regarding the continuity and consistency in the decision making process, we submit the tenure of the House of Representative should be 5 years.
A lesser period does not allow the Government to adequately implement policies. They must be allowed to run for a full term of 5 years.
“When you analyse the time spent by Parliamentarians debating bills and that of implementing policies and directive, not much time is left for the latter.
“We must allow the time and opportunity to the Government to fully implement their manifesto. We submit that the tenure of Parliament should be 5 years.”


The Draft Constitution submitted by Professor Ghai and his constitution commission will be debated by the Constituent Assembly.
When a final constitution is decided it will then be presented to the President for signing.
The final constitution adopted will take the country into the 2014 general elections returning Fiji to elected government.

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