As long expected the debate over whether or not we take the path of the purportedly abrogated 1997 constitution as the pathway to return to parliamentary democratic election in 2014 has come to haunt us.
CCF in a letter after the coup of December 2006 had written to and proposed the formation of an Interim government made up of those to be aptly selected by the then President, the late Ratu Josefa Iloilo Uluivuda. The same was part of the declaration of the Court of Appeal in April 2009. It is important that we resolve this issue in our minds and hearts in choosing the pathway forward in the context of the consultation as announced by PM on Friday 9th March.
To settle the matter the solution lies in civic education.
We need to salvage what is best from the 1997 constitution especially the Bill of Rights. At the same time improve on it as per CCF’s two non-negotiables, removal of raced based voting and reducing the voting age to 18 years, which were originally ruled out due to compromised stance taken by the Inter-Party Parliamentary Committee in 1995.
Those who continue to hold on and lobby for the reinstatement of the 1997 Constitution should heed the calls from former Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi who stated during his review of the handbook “Constitution: Making and Reform” and I quote “While I mourn the manner of the passing of the 1997 Constitution, by force of arms on 5 December 2006 and then by purported abrogation on 10 April 2009, I recognize a new opportunity to build afresh. And this time, there is a very real prospect of laying a foundation that lasts. I appreciate that certain realities may require that change and reform takes decades rather than months and years,”.
So altogether we can all start afresh this time. Civil Society can help make the population aware of the benefits and shortcomings of the 1997 Constitution.
The designated Constituent Assembly will also debate the issues and if necessary put it to a referendum. So let’s get into the process of consultation and let people speak for themselves.