The military-ruled Fiji is getting a new constitution, but it won’t be the one drafted after extensive public consultation.
It’s been six years since Commodore Bainimarama led a military coup which removed the prime minister, followed later by the suspension of the constitution.
A draft constitution, prepared by an internationally respected constitutional lawyer, was presented to the president at the end of last year, in preparation for promised 2014 democratic elections. At a military parade last week Commodore Bainimarama told the troops that draft constitution was unacceptable.
“It was seen that it was not without flaws, it did not correspond with the idea that the government of Fiji has a blueprint for a Constitution to take us forward,” he said.
Professor Brij Lal, who was involved in drawing up the draft for the 1997 constitution that Commodore Bainimarama abolished, says the rejection is not a surprise. “I think one thing that the Ghai Commission recommended that the regime might have found unpalatable was this idea that, you know, the soldiers should go back to the barracks and that they should be under no obligation to obey illegal orders,” he said.
In the next few weeks a new draft constitution, drawn up by Fiji’s attorney-general’s department, will be put before a Constitutional Assembly whose members will be handpicked by Commodore Bainimarama.