Parliament suspends Opposition MPs

The Fijian Parliament has suspended the National Federation Party and its members, following a debate in the House on February 9, 2016.

Media reports said that the Party has been suspended for 30 days for contravening the Political Parties Registration, Conduct Funding and Disclosures Decree.

The suspension included NFP Leader and Member of Parliament Dr Biman Prasad.

The Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem said that NFP’s accounts were audited by a company which was not certified by the Fiji Institute of Accountants.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum moved a motion in Parliament to endorse the suspension of the Party and its Parliamentarians from sittings of the House and committees during the suspension period.

The Opposition claimed that the issue was before the courts and should not be debated. But Speaker Jiko Luveni said that she was not aware of the court case.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum refuted the claim saying the matter was within Parliament and not a legal proceeding on which one could comment.

Legal difference

He said that the Opposition did not understand the legal difference.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had said on February 1 that the Registrar of Political Parties had issued a notice suspending the privileges of NFP as a political Party.

“Because NFP registration was suspended, this basically means that NFP cannot operate, function and represent itself as a political Party,” he said in Parliament.

Opposition MP Niko Nawaikula said that as a consequence of the motion in the past, the court should order a judicial review.

He said that the suspension was only for administrative purposes and that the government should have waited until Parliament had debated the issue.

Outspoken SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu agreed.

Mere endorsement

Meanwhile, Minister for Health and Medical Services, Jone Usamate refuted comments made by the Opposition saying they were ‘waffles.’

“The Attorney General has moved a motion for us to endorse a decision that has already been taken; it involves all of us in this House to make sure that we can leave by the dictates of this Constitution.

“As the Attorney General explained, all of us are sitting here by the virtue of a Party; if a Party needs to be suspended, all we do is endorse that decision,” he said.

Pandora’s Box

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it seemed the Opposition had opened up a Pandora’s box in talking about the suspended NFP.

“A great party it was; for if the Opposition don’t get their own way, it means democracy is dead; if they were sitting on this side of the house and the same thing happening they will say democracy is very much alive,” he said.

The motion was approved with 29 votes to 14 while seven members abstained.

Source: Fijilive, Fiji Times

Photo : Dr Biman Prasad, National Federation Party Leader

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