26 May 2015

Fiji MP suspension not a gender issue: NFP

7:01 am on 26 May 2015

The leader of one of Fiji's opposition parties, the NFP, says the two year suspension given to an opposition MP is harsh and opposition lawyers are looking at the issue.

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu of the fellow opposition party Sodelpa has been suspended from Parliament over slurs against Fiji's female Speaker Jiko Luveni.

The opposition boycotted parliament on Friday after MPs voted to suspend the member.

The National Federation Party chief, Biman Prasad, says the issue at stake is one of privilege and not gender equality as has been suggested by some.

He says the opposition respects gender equality in Fiji.

"This was nothing to do with gender equality or a gender slur on anyone so I think the slant that has been given by some is actually incorrect and out of context."

Sodelpa says Ratu Naiqama's comments which were made outside parliament were not directed towards the Speaker and said in the context of a traditional yaqona or kava session.

Fiji's refurbished parliament, a stone building with clock tower at entrance

Fiji's refurbished parliament, Suva Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley