SDL Party statement on Commission stance
While the Constitutional Commission welcomes the promulgation of two Decrees relating to the process of drafting a new Constitution for Fiji, the Commission has also expressed concerns over several key issues.
The SDL Party joins the Commission in expressing similar concerns.
The Leader of the SDL Party, Mr. Laisenia Qarase said today that the Constituent Assembly Decree would give the Prime Minister complete control over the size and composition of the Constituent Assembly. The number and who will be appointed to represent various groups remain unclear and one can only assume that the Prime Minister will have the ultimate say. This will make nonsense of the declaration by Government that the Constitution – making process will be inclusive, participatory and transparent.
The Decree requires that immunity be provided for the 2006 and earlier coups. Fiji has experienced three or four coups since independence in 1970. Everyone should know that the crime of treason is a serious one indeed. Those who committed and aided the last coups knew this very well. The principle of “no one is above the law” should be applied equally to all citizens. Those involved in previous coups should have the courage to stand up and account for their actions before the law. There should be no exception, said Mr. Qarase.
While the SDL Party welcomes the announcement that the requirement of permits for some meetings has been temporarily suspended, the relaxation does not go far enough. Restrictions on interviews with the media and communications through radio, newspapers and television remain in force. The current environment is not conducive to free, fair and effective consultations with members of the public on this vitally important process of constitution – making.