26 Aug 2004

Fiji senator's bid to gag 'treason' speech overruled

7:18 am on 26 August 2004

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

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senator, Mitieli Bulanauca, said the Great Council of Chiefs should have ensured that the 1997 Constitution was repealed once and for all after the May 2000 coup.

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

Senator Bulanauca said both the council and the president shouldn't 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 repealing during the coup was illegal.

Senator Felix Anthony said Senator Bulanauca was suggesting that the constitution should have been repealed illegally and that the rule of law should not have prevailed.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