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October 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Public consultations in the formation of Fiji’s new Constitution comes to a close today as commission chair Yash Ghai admits they have been working quite hard to meet the deadline.

The commission held their final round of hearings today at Rotuma Govt Station, Moala and Lakeba.

In an interview with FijiLive, Ghai said they were hoping to finish the draft before Christmas in order to give the public ample time to study the draft Constitution, give their comments before it's submitted to the Constituent Assembly “with the public’s comments”..

“Drafting the constitution has been ongoing in terms of loading submissions into a database. I can’t talk about the final copy as we have not finished it, but we have been working quite hard to meet the deadline,” Ghai said.

Commenting on the consulation process, Ghai said although consultation was launched late July, it did not start proper until early August.

"A lot of the people did not seem to know what the issues were or that a process was underway. Some were confused about issues so we had to try and enlighten them on the basic information on the formation of the constitution first.

“Its been two and half months since the consultation started and the team has traveled quite a lot, talked to the different communities in their different environments with their issues and we have some idea of the difference that exists locally in terms of culture, the land they live on, ideas and recommendations.

“We feel that we have talked to all communities in the urban and rural areas as well spiritual and in all walks of life talking to the people of the kind of change they would like to make life better.”

Ghai said the draft copy will be circulated to members of the public with a short document, about 20-25 pages long, which will explain the contents of the constitution and it will be in the three main languages spoken in Fiji.

“We want to make sure that people all over the country get copies and in the language they understand.”

The public will be given between Christmas and early January to study the draft document and submit their comments after which the draft copy will be passed on to the Constituent Assembly in late January.

By Lavenia Vuadreu

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