2 May 2003

Fiji Labour Party calls for resignation of deputy Speaker

10:32 am on 2 May 2003

The Fiji Labour Party has expressed shock at the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase's statement expressing full support for the deputy Speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

Ratu Rakuita has been barred from practising law for life for his role in the coup 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 showed he had no understanding of the rule of law.

Mr Qarase said this week all government members had full confidence in Ratu Rakuita and the Law Society's decision had no bearing on his rights and privileges as a member of parliament or his eligibility to remain deputy Speaker.

Mr Chaudhry says Ratu Rakuita is facing court charges arising from his actions during the coup and should do the honourable thing and resign as deputy Speaker and chairman of parliament's Justice, Law and Order Committee.

The Labour leader says should he fail to do so, parliament must take steps to strip him of those positions.

Ratu Rakuita himself, says his tribunal hearing was unfair because of an orchestrated public campaign against him which may have influenced the judges.

Ratu Rakuita says he should have been judged by indigenous lawyers.

"I strongly believe there was an orchestrated media campaign against me. It just hasn't been done fairly. I was part of a political event related to the ethnic structure of this country. The least the Law Society could have done was put a panel of peers who are indigenous lawyers. They didn't. I don't think they took the effort to find indigenous lawyers to judge me."