23 Nov 2005

Fiji PM appoints senator's de facto wife to replace him in Upper House

11:16 am on 23 November 2005

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has named the de facto wife of a jailed government senator to replace him in the Upper House.

Ratu Inoke Takiveikata was jailed for life last year for inciting the November 2000 army mutiny which claimed eight lives, but remained on the Senate payroll until last month when he became eligible for a pension.

Fiji TV reports that Mr Qarase has now named his de facto wife, Adi Lagamu Vuiyasawa, to replace him as a government senator.

Mr Qarase has defended the decision by saying the appointment is the prime minister's prerogative and he does not go into personalities.

But the deputy opposition leader, Poseci Bune, says the move is unethical and highly questionable, and sets a bad precedent.

Mr Bune says it is a political concession due to Ratu Inoke's influence in the ruling SDL party which he helped set up and of which he is vice president.