8 Feb 2016

Suspension of Fiji MPs legally doubtful

12:02 pm on 8 February 2016

A Fijian academic says the members of Fiji's suspended National Federation Party have a case to challenge their suspension from parliament in the courts.

Last week, the party was suspended by the supervisor of elections, Mohammed Saneem, for 30 days over apparent concerns about the auditing of the party's accounts.

The Speaker of Parliament, Jiko Luveni, then followed that by suspending the party's three MPs from parliament, apparently on advice from the Solicitor General's office.

But Dr Steven Ratuva, who is the director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at New Zealand's Canterbury University, said the legality of Ms Luveni's order was questionable.

"It's a very grey area in there. Because the decree -- section 27, subsection 6 -- says that although the political party may be suspended, the members of parliament will still be members of parliament. Parliamentarians are elected directly from the people, not from the party. You may suspend the party, but you really can't suspend the individual parliamentarians."

Steven Ratuva said Mr Saneem's decision to suspend the party seemed harsh, when the Electoral decree said a party could be warned about an issue.

The Speaker's office has been approached for comment.

Fiji's Members of Parliament

Fiji's Members of Parliament Photo: Fiji Department of Information

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