#79 CONSTITUTIONAL CAPERS

Professor Yash Ghai (Photo: Fiji Minfo)

A central pillar of the Fiji Government’s promised return to democracy in 2014 is the formulation of a new constitution to provide for one man one vote, a feature that was noticeably absent in the 1997 constitution abrogated three years ago. The job has been given to a panel led by Professor Yash Ghai, a constitutional expert who’s a global authority in his field, having forged national blueprints for governance in his own country – Kenya – and across the globe. Professor Ghai’s appointment disarmed even the most skeptical of Fiji’s critics because of his fierce reputation for independence. The record shows that he is no rubber stamp and is prepared to walk away if he feels his independence has been compromised. All of which points to an interesting few months as the consultation process begins in earnest and Professor Ghai and his panel of worthies set out to meet the Government’s deadline of next January to have their document ready.

Grubsheet has decided to eschew comment on the process – for the moment at least – in favour of this link to an exceptional article on the constitutional debate by the distinguished New Zealand academic commentator on Fiji,  Professor Crosbie Walsh. He dissects both the players and the process in what’s undoubtedly the single most important event in the lead-up to 2014, not only for the future of Fiji but in reestablishing its credibility with the rest of the international community and especially its chief critics – Australia and NZ.