AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama will over the next couple of days feature on several talkback radio shows to answer questions about the controversial new Fijian draft constitution.
In a press release on Monday it was announced that the deadline for submissions on the draft constitution has been extended by four days. The new deadline is now April 30.
The statement from the Ministry of Information claimed there had been overwhelmingly positive response to the draft constitution and the process of public consultation.
Bainimarama said the four-day extension gives the government’s legal team more time to hold public meetings in additional parts of the country.
Commodore Bainimarama will now continue with his tours of public consultation. Bainimarama held public meetings in Nadi and Sigatoka on Monday. Later this week new meetings will be held in Taveuni and Savusavu.
“The existing provisions of the draft have been warmly accepted but, of course, people are asking for clarification on some aspects and we want to engage with them personally," Bainimarama said.
Petition against draft
While the Fiji regime is promoting the new draft constitution, others want to scrap it and start all over again. A nationwide petition was launched by the United Front for a Democratic Fiji against the draft constitution Tuesday, according to the regime critical blog Coupfourpointfive.
Fiji’s last democratically prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is reported to be one of the supporters of the anti-constitution movement.
The United Front for a Democratic Fiji demands the current draft constitution be replaced by the 2012 People’s Draft, which they say “reflected the views, thoughts and aspirations of a very wide cross-section of our society”.
The United Front for a Democratic Fiji criticises the Fiji regime for an inadequate consultation process and for only providing the constitution in English.
“A balancing act”
PM Bainimarama has a different take on the consultation process.
“When people have the provisions explained to them, it’s clear that a great many are satisfied with the document," he said.
The 58-year-old regime leader said that he would have liked a longer consultation process, but that it is very important to finish the constitution.
“We need to get the consultation finalised as soon as possible. So it’s a balancing act between this process and our absolute need to meet the election deadline of September next year.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.