Fiji’s military boss’s rejection of revised constitution dismays secretary-general

The military government in Suva has rejected a draft revision of the country’s constitution that was solicited to set in process an end to Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth.

The document was prepared by a Fijian Constitutional Commission, chaired by Prof Yashpal Ghai, a scholar of international standing on the subject of constitutional law.

Ghai, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, had been engaged to hold wide-ranging committee hearings to solicit public views on reforming the law in the south Pacific nation and frame the new constitution in Commonwealth terms.

In London, the Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma called the decision to reject the constitution report “regrettable.”

After an unsettled two years that displaced the elected government, in May 2000, Armed Forces Commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama emerged as pro-tem president and had directed a militarily-driven administration ever since, promising from time to time eventual free and fair elections to restore democracy. His administration, which splits the nation racially between Hindu and aboriginal, has grown increasingly harsh.

– Murray Burt

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