Pacific Media Watch

27 August 2013

FIJI: New constitution can lead to ‘genuine democracy’, says professor

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Dr Satendra Nandan is impressed by the new Fijian constitution. Image:

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch / Pacific Scoop): A Fiji professor has praised the new constitution, saying it provides for the development of a “genuine democracy” in a multi-ethnic Fiji.

In a Pacific Scoop analysis, Dr Satendra Nandan of the Australian and Fiji national universities lauded the new constitution for being inclusive of the different ethnicities in Fiji.

"The new constitution is underpinned by many universal principles aimed at creating a democracy of human decency, equality of citizens and belonging to a nation with a common national identity", he said. 

“Those who used race, religion, ethnicity, communalism and privileges will find it hard to survive in the new political arrangements delineated in this constitution.”

Dr Nandan was pleased that the new constitution gives “one person, one vote”.

“There are no special reserved seats for anyone - if you wish to play the leadership game, your legitimacy will be derived from the will of the electorate."

“An 'Indian' vote is equal to the 'chief’s', if you believed in chiefs and Indians!”, Nandan wrote, concluding that Fiji would be "a better and fairer society for all” with the new constitution.

Land protection
Dr Nandan was also enthusiastic about the new provisions on land ownership in the constitution.

Indigenous citizens lands “are fully protected in this constitution”.

“This constitution…has defined the ownership of iTaukei (new name for indigenous inhabitants) land unequivocally and categorically on the first page of this historic document.”

Fiji’s next big challenge would be to hold a fair election, Dr Nandan argued.

“Fiji has exactly a year to prepare for it. How the present government goes about it will determine both the legitimacy of the future elected government and restore the faith of the people in the democratic process.”

Read Dr Nandan’s full analysis at Pacific Scoop

Full text for the Fiji constitution

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