1 May 2003

Fiji government supports deputy Speaker of parliament

10:15 am on 1 May 2003

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has come out in full support of the deputy Speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, despite a lifetime ban preventing him from practising law.

Radio Fiji quotes Mr Qarase as saying all government members have full confidence in Ratu Rakuita continuing as deputy Speaker.

The Fiji Law Society has struck off Ratu Rakuita's name from the register of barristers and solicitors after he was found guilty of professional misconduct when he was sworn in as attorney general in George Speight's failed administration

The Fiji Law Society's disciplinary committee said Ratu Rakuita's explanation of his action showed a serious lack of understanding of the rule of law.

But Mr Qarase says the Law Society's decision does not bear on Ratu Rakuita's rights and privileges as a member of parliament or his eligibility to continue as deputy Speaker.

Mr Qarase says the determination by the Law Society is a civil finding and Ratu Rakuita has not been charged or convicted of any criminal offence.

Meanwhile, a court case in which Ratu Rakuita has been charged with one count of taking an unlawful oath to commit a capital offence and one count of engaging in a seditious enterprise will resume next week.