The Fijian constitution

ZB reports first the bad:

Fiji’s ruling military has warned it will closely monitor parliament when the coup-plagued nation finally elects a new government, as officials wrapped up work on a draft constitution. …

However, the role of the military, a key political player in the Pacific nation that has endured four coups since 1987, remains contentious, with the author of the draft constitution calling for it to stay out of politics after 2014.

But in a submission to the commission tasked with working on the new constitution, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) indicated it had no intention of restricting its role after the elections.

The military exists “to deal with both internal security situation and external threats,” said the submission, which was seen by AFP.

“The forces cannot and will not be complacent in dealing with situations that undermine national interest.”

The military said it would not allow any government that won office in 2014 to undermine its reforms.

This has always been my concern. Fiji will be a pseudo-democracy. The people will be able to elect a Government, but only if the Government does things the military approves of.

Kenyan academic Yash Ghai, the head of the five-person Constitutional Commission that handed the draft document to the government on Friday, said the military should be subject to parliamentary oversight and focus on national defence.

“We think the professional military, their conscience should be to defend Fiji against external aggression and we would rather the police handle internal disorder issues,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“We feel that the military must be responsible to the government and to parliament and they have to act within the confines of the constitution.”

But sadly this will not happen. Fiji’s future appears to be a series of military rulers. They won’t interfere most of the time, but will grant themselves the right to intervene purely because they have the guns.

The new constitution is intended to guarantee, through a People’s Charter, principles such as one-person-one-vote, an independent judiciary and transparent governance, as well as establishing a secular, corruption-free state.

And that is the good. But the military must be accountable to the elected Parliament, and not above the Constitution.

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