Fiji’s new constitution changes electoral system, shifts control of army

After a series of delays, the Fiji government has released the new constitution.
The document was drawn up by the military regime after it rejected last year’s draft drawn up by the independent Constitution Commission to replace the 1997 constitution, thrown out in 2009.
The country will get a 50-seat Parliament, elected every four years, and the electorates have been abolished in favour of a single national constituency and an open-list proportional representation system.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Fiji military will now be the President, who appoints a commander after consultation with government ministers.
The role has been removed from the office of the Prime Minister, as allowed in the draft released early this year.
The immunity provisions for coup perpetrators have been kept, and the regime has strengthened the protection of its own laws and decrees by ruling out the possibility of seeking compensation for decrees overturned by future parliaments.
The other major change in the constitution is the protection of indigenous land rights as well as economic benefits for minerals extracted from indigenous land.
The constitution is the first to be published in all the official languages - English, Fijian and Hindustani.
It also enshrines that the regime will remain in power until a government has been put in place after the elections promised for next year.
The constitution also states that it is the responsibility of the military to ensure at all times the security and well-being of Fiji and all Fijians.

RNZI
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