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Fiji's military to 'monitor' parliament

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Latest News | Friday December 21 2012 20:57

Fiji's military to 'monitor' parliament

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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.

Military leader Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup and tore up the last constitution, has pledged to hold elections in 2014 after introducing reforms he said were needed to make the country a proper democracy.

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.

"The RFMF will monitor the ongoing situation in the parliament and in Fiji, ensuring that what it had adopted since 2006 ... is fully implemented," it said.

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."

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.

The draft constitution is scheduled to be formally adopted by the end of March.

Photo: Getty Images

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