On November 13 [Commodore Bainimarama] issued nine demands to the Qarase government which included the withdrawal of the bills.Fiji is a constitutional democracy. Whatever claims Bainimarama might make regarding his actions, he cannot be claiming to be acting constitutionally. We can see why he wants to appoint himself President:At 6pm (7pm NZT) on December 5 he seized control, installed himself as President, sacked Qarase, named his own man as PM and sent soldiers onto the streets with police.
Section 87 Commander-in-Chief
The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces
Section 90 Appointment of President and Vice-President
The President and Vice-President are appointed by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga after consultation by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga with the Prime Minister.
And even if you concede that he can get over that hurdle, he cannot simply dismiss the PM off his own bat:
So just to summarise: based on the reports merging from Fiji, it seems to me that Bainimarama has no claim to be acting constitutionally.
Section 109 Dismissal of Prime Minister
(1) The President may not dismiss a Prime Minister unless the Government fails to get or loses the confidence of the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister does not resign or get a dissolution of the Parliament.
(2) If the President dismisses a Prime Minister, the President may, acting in his or her own judgment, appoint a person as a caretaker Prime Minister to advise a dissolution of the Parliament.
UPDATE 1: From NBR: "[Bainimarama] said Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's refusal to agree to President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's request to resign had left Fiji in "limbo" and forced him to act." Well, unless the Prime Minister lost a motion of no confidence in the House of Repreentatives, the President appears to have no power to dismiss Qarase. And the President may appoint a caretaker Prime Minister, but only the Great Council of Chiefs "after consultation with the Prime Minister" may appoint the President.
The Commodore said the constitution would largely remain in place, and the judiciary and other arms of government would continue to operate.It would appear he's talking nonsense, but that he's paying lip service to the constitution suggest a respect for the institution, even if only in the breach. And here's the hope:
[Bainimarama] said he would next week ask Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs to reappoint Mr Iloilo as president. The caretaker government would then be appointed. In the meantime, a military council would offer advice. Commodore Bainimarama said once the country was stable and electoral rolls amended, elections would be held.We shall see.
UPDATE 2: Perhaps the only wrinkle here is that Fiji was not, perhaps, on a completely constitutional footing. Laisenia Qarase was not originally an elected Prime Minister -- he was appointed by Bainimarama after the Commodore rescued Fiji from the Speight coup in 2000, and it's been reported that from his point of view Qarase has violated the understanding between them made at that time. But Qarase's election in 2006 surely put an end to any post-coup period of unconstitutionality?
LINKS: Fiji: What's happened so far - Herald
Fiji's Constitution, adopted 23 September, 1998 - (German) Institute for Public Law
Full coup launched in Fiji - NBR
Fiji General Election, 2006 - Wikipedia
RELATED: Politics-World, Constitution