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(Sep 09, 2013) On September 6, 2013, the President of Fiji formally assented to a new constitution in a ceremony at Government House in the capital,
Reactions to the New ConstitutionSeveral people who protested outside Government House prior to the signing of the constitution were arrested by police and then released. (Fiji Police Arrest 14 Protestors Outside Government House, RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL (Sept. 6, 2013); Protesters Arrested as Fiji's President Prepares to Give Assent to New Constitution, ABC RADIO AUSTRALIA (Sept. 6, 2013).)Human rights groups have criticized some aspects of the new constitution, including provisions relating to immunity for members of the interim government and those involved in the 2006 coup. The constitution also confirms that all 270 decrees promulgated by the government since the coup will remain law and, in the view of critics, sets out "broad limitations" on rights of freedom of association, assembly, and expression. (Press Release, Human Rights
· all Fiji citizens are called "Fijians" for the first time in a Fiji constitution;· the voting age has been reduced from 21 to 18 years of age;· 50 members of parliament will be elected every four years from a single national constituency, rather than from multiple electorates. Previously, Fiji's electorates had been race-based. Under the new constitution, there are no special reserved seats in the parliament for any group; and· the communal ownership of land by iTaukei (the name for indigenous Fijians under the constitution) is expressly protected. (Satendra Nandan, Fiji Constitution Offers Better and Fairer Society for All – A Window of Opportunity, PACIFIC.SCOOP (Aug. 27, 2013); Matthew Dornan, New Constitution for Fiji, DEVPOLICY BLOG (Aug. 27, 2013).)
New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, said that, although the country may not like the immunity provisions, they were not a "deal breaker" and may be a necessary compromise to guarantee that fair and democratic elections will be held next year. (Isaac Davison, Key: NZ Will Accept Immunity Clause for Fiji Coup Leaders, THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD (Sept. 2, 2013).) Fiji's opposition political parties subsequently accused Key of appeasing the military government. (NZ Accused of Appeasing Fiji's Coup-Installed Government, AUSTRALIA NETWORK NEWS (Sept. 5, 2013).)
|Author:||Kelly Buchanan More by this author|
|Topic:||Constitution More on this topic|
|Jurisdiction:||Fiji More about this jurisdiction|
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Last updated: 09/09/2013