By Deli Oso
Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has told the country’s legal professionals that they have a ‘crucial part to play’ in ensuring that the proposed Federal Constitution emanates from and is owned by Solomon Islanders.
The Prime Minister made the remarks when addressing the country’s legal professionals at the close of consultations of the Constitutional Reform Unit with the Solomon Islands Bar Association on the 2nd 2014 Draft Federal Constitution in Honiara last Friday.
The consultations with the Bar Association also mark the conclusion of the consultation process of the 2nd 2014 Draft Federal Constitution.
Whilst emphasising that the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has the political will to adopt a Federal Constitution for Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Sogavare told the legal practitioners that, “As lawyers you have a crucial part to play in making sure that we have a constitution that emanates from the people, made by the people and belongs to the people of Solomon Islands.
He further stressed to the legal professionals that, “As the ones who would normally formulate, interpret and execute the law in society, it is proper that you have become important participants in the consultation process on the Draft Federal Constitution.
“I understand you have gone through the Draft Constitution thoroughly by scrutinising it word by word, line by line, clause by clause, section by section and paragraph by paragraph.
“I also understand that you have made very constructive observations on and contributions to the structure, format and contents of the draft with a view to making it more relevant to our existing system of laws and more pertinently to making it more suitable to the socio-cultural, tribal and geopolitical diversities in our country. Harnessing this intrinsic diversity is a very important undergirding principle in the architecture of the proposed Constitution.”
The Prime Minister then reminded the legal professionals that in any written contributions they wish to submit to his office, they must remember that the federal structure-States and Community Government’s autonomy and sovereignty, power and revenue-sharing provisions, customary and cultural rights and practices and other peculiar provisions to support a ‘truly homegrown’ constitution are kept intact.
“This is the path that our people have chosen, not without due deliberations or thinking. Hence my Government has to lead the way to our destination. The Promised Land is just on the other side of Jordon and we will cross the river when we come to it in a couple of years.
“The home-grown principle is to be understood as referring to our existing societal values, norms and approaches, mutual respect and so forth as genuine foundations for the enhancement of peace and harmony, traditional leadership institutions and structures as well as regional progress in our own context and space,” he added.
Prime Minster said the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has no illusions that the federal reform will come easy or instantly, adding that like all desirable goals, it has to work patiently, persistently and hard for it.
He said with the conclusion of the consultation process, what remains to be done are basically procedural and administrative matters.
The Prime Minister said as the Minister responsible for Constitutional matters, he will receive the final 2016/17 Draft Federal Constitution come early 2017 after which the government will decide on the type of ratification mechanism or process through which the people as well as elected leaders will scrutinise this document.
The Constitutional Reform Unit comes under the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.