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Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Statement on Fiji

14 January 2013
London, 14 January 2013 − Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma today expressed regret about the Government of Fiji’s decision to reject the draft constitution prepared by the Constitutional Commission chaired by Professor Yash Ghai.

The Secretary-General said: “The Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, commits Commonwealth governments to the value of democracy, especially the inalienable right of the individual to participate by means of free and democratic processes in shaping the society in which they live. It also commits Commonwealth governments to the core principles of inclusiveness and legitimacy. These values and principles are the bedrock for all Commonwealth societies today, which is why the Commonwealth continues to take a close interest in the work of the Constitutional Commission.

“To be legitimate and enduring for future generations, the constitution of Fiji needs to be a product of reflection and input by the people for the people of Fiji. The decision by the Fiji Government to set aside the text painstakingly prepared by the Commission through widespread public consultation is regrettable.

“The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, at its last meeting in September 2012, welcomed the broad-based national dialogue on Fiji’s future. The inclusive national constitutional consultation process that has been completed needs to be reflected fully in the new constitution,” the Secretary-General said.

“The Commonwealth remains committed to the restoration of civilian and constitutional democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Fiji, and remains open and willing to support the Government of Fiji towards these ends,” the Secretary-General concluded.