9 Aug 2004

Debate over whether Fiji's vice president should remain in office after conviction

8:20 am on 9 August 2004

Ratu Jope Seniloli remains vice president of Fiji despite being jailed for four years last Friday on a coup related conviction.

The Daily Post quotes some lawyers as saying Seniloli could apply for a pardon to the Prerogative of Mercy Commission.

They are also quoted as saying Serniloli could still hold office pending the outcome of an appeal and bail application, both of which are expected to be lodged today.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, says there is no provision in the constitution that he vacates office in the current circumstances.

But a lawyer who was the secretary of the Reeves Constitution Review Commission, Jon Apted, disagrees.

Mr Apted says as Seniloli has begun serving a jail sentence of more than 12 months, he is no longer constitutionally qualified to hold office as vice president.

He says while there is no provision for Seniloli to vacate office on conviction, he could either tender his resignation or the Prime Minister could ask the chief justice to set up a tribunal to report on whether Seniloli should be removed