25 Aug 2004

Fiji senate president tolerates seditious speeches

3:25 pm on 25 August 2004

The president of the Fiji Senate, Taito Waqavakatoga, has allowed members of the Upper House to continue using speeches criticised as treasonable and seditious.

The issue was raised by Labour senator Felix Anthony after government senator Mitieli Bulanauca said the Great Council of Chiefs should have ensured that the 1997 Constitution was abrogated once and for all after the May 2000 coup.

Senator Bulanauca said the majority of indigenous Fijians wanted the constitution abrogated but their calls were not heard by the Great Council of Chiefs and President Iloilo.

Senator Bulanauca said both the council and the president should not have allowed the courts to restore the 1997 Constitution without fear of anybody.

Both the High Court and the Appeal Court upheld the constitution on the grounds that its attempted abrogation during the coup was illegal.

Senator Felix Anthony said Senator Bulanauca was suggesting that the constitution should have been abrogated illegally and that the rule of law should not have prevailed.

When Senator Anthony objected saying House Standing Orders state that it is out of order for a senator to use treasonable or seditious words, Senate president Taito Waqavakatoga dismissed the objection.

He said Senator Bulanauca could continue.