Fiji MP's suspension outrages party leader
The leader of Fiji's opposition NFP says the suspension of one of his MPs until the next election is extreme and unwarranted.
The leader of Fiji's opposition National Federation Party says the suspension of one of his MPs until the next election is extreme and unwarranted, and a gross abuse of a government majority.
On Friday, parliament voted to suspend Tupou Draunidalo for the rest of the parliamentary term by 28 votes to 16.
The vote followed a recommendation by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee -- which is made up of four government MPs -- after an incident on Thursday when Ms Draunidalo apparently called the education minister an "idiot" and a "fool".
But Biman Prasad says suspending an MP until 2018 for such an offence is ridiculous, and he told Jamie Tahana his party is weighing up its options.
BIMAN PRASAD: What I understand from what happened was a very parliamentary exchange of ideas and also comments and accusations, and that's where the matter should have been left at and parliament continues as it does in most decent parliaments.
JAMIE TAHANA: Most decent parliaments, though, the level of decorum, should it go down to a shouting match where names like "dumb natives", "fool", and "idiot" are thrown about?
BP: Well it depends on the circumstances in which those terms might be used, I mean there are terms used in most parliaments which sometimes in the spur of the moment, and Honourable Draunidalo did say that and apologised in a contribution to parliament. But the fact of the matter is that the penalty, the suspension for the rest of the parliament term, is extreme and harsh, unwarranted, and uncalled for in a parliamentary democracy such as ours. The whole issue should not have gone to the privileges committee in the first place and obviously the decision by four Fiji First members of the privileges committee to provide that sort of sanction to Tupou Draunidalo has been extremely harsh.
JT: What does this mean for Ms Draunidalo's job as an MP? She can't got to parliament for two years.
BP: Well essentially the people, it's not so much Honourable Draunidalo, it's the people who have elected her, people who have voted her and the party that she represents will miss that representation in parliament, and that is the point. You know, when you look at penalties, when you look at sanctions that must be within the ambit of a reasonable penalty, reasonable sanction. This goes beyond any reasonableness in meting out the kind of punishment that has been meted out to her through the Fiji First government and their majority in parliament.
JT: So what action can the party take? You have raised the possibility of the NFP leaving parliament before, is this something you're considering even more now, or legal challenges? What are your next moves?
BP: Well as I said those are options that the party will look at when it meets in a few weeks and I'll leave it there.
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