27 May 2015

Options raised for Fiji's Sodelpa over MP suspension

5:37 pm on 27 May 2015

A scholar of parliamentary process and law in the region Richard Herr says the opposition in Fiji has a few options open to it to deal with the suspension of one of its MPs.

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu of the Sodelpa party has been suspended from parliament for two years over slurs against the Speaker during a constituency meeting.

The opposition says nothing was directed at the Speaker and their MPs boycotted Parliament last week after it voted on the suspension.

Dr Herr sees three options ahead for Sodelpa.

"They can choose to focus on the empty chair in parliament, as a sort of silent protest. The member himself could resign of course and that would mean that the position would be refilled immediately. I guess some of the constituents could petition the parliament to reconsider it. It can't go to court but the parliament itself could reconsider."

Dr Herr says Fiji's parliament appears to have followed standard procedure over the issue but he says in general parliaments try to avoid using their sanctioning powers on matters of privilege because of the public reaction.

Government buildings, Suva

The Suva clock tower above Fiji's parliamentary chamber Photo: RNZ / Sally Round