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By firmly reasserting his control, Mr Bainimarama may perhaps have avoided the risk of troublesome upstarts seizing control over the transition. But he has also blown his chance to preside over the creation of a new political order that is durable and legitimate.
The constitutional consultation process, according to The Economist, was such a success in attracting more than 7,000 submissions that even the RFMF emerged from it stoked about the country's potential under a democracy. The Yash Ghai-led Fiji Constitutional Commission accepted the regime's “non-negotiable” provisions, then demonstrated its independence by pointing out that many of the interim government's decrees, which limited rights the FCC planned to enshrine, would have to be ditched. For one brief, shining moment,
Such was the euphoria around the process that the armed forces, in their own submission, said that the FCC had triggered “a sense of belonging culminating in a national pride” and a “togetherness which we must continue to foster”.