21 Nov 2003

Fiji Labour party calls for removal of parliament's deputy speaker

5:26 pm on 21 November 2003

The Fiji Labour Party is demanding the removal of the deputy speaker of parliament and chairman of its justice, law and order committee, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

This follows a criminal charge of assault causing actual bodily harm against Ratu Rakuita for allegedly knocking out the two front teeth of a restaurant cashier following a dispute over a bill.

Labour party spokesman Lekh Ram Vayashnoi says Ratu Rakuita's behaviour is continuing to bring disrepute to his high office and is a source of embarrassment to parliament.

Mr Vayashnoi says Ratu Rakuita is obviously not a fit person to chair a committee charged with reviewing matters relating to law and order and the government must remove him forthwith.

But the Daily Post quotes the Fijian Political Party, the SVT and the Fiji Democratic Party as both saying Ratu Rakuita should step down if the court finds him guilty.

He will appear in court on the assault charge on December 11th and a few days later on much more serious coup-related charges.

Ratu Rakuita faces charges of taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence and another of engaging in a seditious enterprise for being sworn in as a member of George Speight's failed administration a day after the May 2000 coup.

Fiji's vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, and the minister for sports, Isireli Leweniqila, face the same coup-related charges for joining the failed administration.